The following was posted by Matthew Bolshaw from the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation:

In the short period since my last update the All Party Group have been busy despite the Parliamentary Recess and the following significant events have taken place:

CROSS-PARTY GROUP OF MPs COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL VISIT TO WASHINGTON, D.C., TO DISCUSS THE GA SECTOR WITH US AVIATION BODIES…. 

The group also visited EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to learn more about the thriving grassroots sector and how it compares to the UK.
 
The MPs, who are members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, met with two of their US counterparts from the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, Rep. Sam Graves and Dem. Marc Veasey. They then met with organisations including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI).
 
Topics for discussion included the regulation of General Aviation in the United States; the current legislative environment in both the US and the UK; the economic benefits of General Aviation to local and national economies; and continued mutual recognition of standards post-Brexit.

The all-party group then travelled to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the world’s largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts at EAA AirVenture, and met with the organisers of the show, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), to understand how they represent the recreational aviation community. Meetings were also held with the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), who organised a tech tour of the show to companies such as Hartzell Propeller Inc., Piper, Textron and BendixKing.

Following the airshow, the parliamentarians headed to Frederick, Maryland to meet with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest aviation association, to discuss key ways of engaging more young people in aviation and General Aviation in particular. Schemes with the all-party group hopes to take forward as a result of this meeting include pushing Government to adopt a STEM curriculum in schools, and a commitment to ensure more women pursue careers in aviation.

Sheryll Murray MP, who was part of the delegation and is a member of the all-party group, said: “Our group of parliamentarians from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation have had a fascinating and incredibly worthwhile series of meetings in the United States, to learn about the overall picture of General Aviation there and identify measures that the UK Government can adopt to grow and enhance this grassroots sector here. It’s clear from the high-level meetings we held with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Business Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association among others, that there is much more the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority can be doing to promote the importance of General Aviation, and the high-tech jobs and skills it brings.
 
Colleagues from the all-party group will be coming forward with legislative proposals to get more young people, and particularly young women, involved in grassroots aviation jobs – otherwise the UK’s £60bn+ wider aviation sector will struggle to survive.”

Following the success of the APPG with the recently published draft National Planning Policy Framework we were encouraged to receive a letter from the Secretary of State. The letter can be found on our website.

PLANNING AUTHORITIES SHOULD “ENGAGE” WITH AERODROMES ON LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS
 , SAYS MINISTER

The Local Government Secretary of State, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, has told local planning authorities that they should engage with non-statutory consultees (including aerodromes) on developments within the local area, in a letter to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation.

In the letter, Mr Brokenshire says that “National Planning Practice Guidance sets out that local planning authorities should consider whether there are planning policy reasons to engage other consultees who – whilst not designated in law – are likely to have an interest in the proposed development.

“Local planning authorities are encouraged to produce and publish a locally specific list of non-statutory consultees. Local planning authorities should engage with non-statutory consultees to identify clearly the types of developments within the local area in which they have interest so that any formal consultation can be directed appropriately.”

Mr Brokenshire also said that officials from his department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, are working with the Department for Transport on the safeguarding status of licensed or certified airfields in the UK.

The Secretary of State’s letter came in response to the all-party group’s call to Government to grant ‘official safeguarding’ status to all 123 of these licensed aerodromes. Official safeguarding status is awarded to civil aerodromes by the Government in order to ensure that their operation and development are not inhibited by neighbouring developments such as buildings – which could interfere with navigational aids or distract pilots. This means that any development proposals require consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority. Currently only 29 aerodromes in England and Wales and 12 in Scotland are officially safeguarded.
 


Chair of the 174-strong all-party parliamentary group, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, said: “The minister has sent a clear message that local planning authorities should draw up a list of non statutory organisations who should be consulted on matters related to their airfields surviving and thriving. Parliamentary colleagues warmly welcome this reassurance from the Secretary of State that the interests of local aerodromes and the General Aviation sector must not be disregarded, particularly when it comes to planning issues which may impact on their ability to train the pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers of the future.
 
But we want the Government to go further, and specifically grant the 123 licensed and certified aerodromes in the UK officially safeguarded status. It surely cannot be right that only 29 aerodromes in England and Wales, and just 12 in Scotland, are officially protected from neighbouring developments inhibiting their activities. If the Government truly wants to see the UK’s aviation grassroots thrive, then it must at the very least officially safeguard all licensed aerodromes.”

The APPG on GA intends to send the letter to every planning authority in order to highlight the advice in order to better protect the STEM jobs and growth derived from general aviation.

We have also been dealing with the CAA on various matters but one of these involves Skytyping and similar. We were pleased to announce:

MINISTER PLEDGES TO CHANGE LAW TO LEGALISE WRITING IN THE SKY
 


The Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg CBE has promised to update UK law to allow for the practice of Skytyping and other forms of sky writing in the UK. The move follows pressure from parliamentarians and aviation aerobatic experts to change outdated legislation, which currently bans writing anything in the sky.

In a letter from the Aviation Minister, sent after the all-party group contacted the Transport Secretary to point out the absurdity of the current law, Baroness Sugg confirmed that the Department for Transport will consult on amending secondary legislation to reverse the current ban on Skytyping and other forms of sky writing.

Skytyping is a technique whereby an aircraft emits smoke in a series of precision bursts to form lettering and words in the sky. The smoke output is generated by an electronic master plan. But whilst the practice has been allowed in countries such as the United States for decades, it has always been illegal in the UK.
 
Despite Parliamentary time for dealing with the amendment being limited until after the UK has left the European Union, Baroness Sugg says that the General Aviation community should “be assured that the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] and the DfT [Department for Transport] are very keen to take this Skytyping project forward as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

Welcoming this commitment from the Minister, the Chair of the all-party group Grant Shapps MP said: “The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation has just returned from a successful fact-finding visit to the United States, where Skytyping has been allowed as a communication tool to reach millions of people for decades.
 
“Our 173 strong cross-party group of MPs and Lords thought it was high time that the UK updated its outdated laws on sky writing, so we contacted the Secretary of State to ask him to intervene. We warmly welcome this new commitment from the Aviation Minister, pledging to overturn this bonkers ban on UK Skytyping.
 
We want to see General Aviation fulfill its potential to expand high-tech jobs and growth in the UK and updating antiquated laws which hold back aviation is a key part of our mission. It’s clear that the Government has a long way to go to fulfil its policy of making the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation, but this is  a positive step in the right direction, and the all-party group looks forward to helping the Minister deliver this promise.”

This letter can also be found on the APPG website.

Manston and Plymouth Airports

Finally, over the past few days we are delighted to report that some very good news has emerged on the re-opening of the above two airports. While the fight is not yet over major hurdles have been overcome with the future of both now looking promising. The APPG is delighted to have been of assistance and wishes both airports every success as they proceed towards becoming operational.

Matthew Bolshaw, 
Public Liaison Officer to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation.

Membership of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation includes 173 parliamentarians across both Houses of Parliament. Its mission is to help make the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation. Find out more about membership and our work at www.generalaviationappg.uk

Follow the APPG on Twitter – twitter.com/GA_APPG

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The GAAC (General Aviation Awareness Council) fully engages and supports the work of the APPG for GA. Its board members are chairing key APPG committees and acting as a liaison with the 40-plus aviation organisations that are GAAC members, including the LAA, AOPA and BGA. For further information please see www.gaac.org.uk.

About Ian Sheppard

Ian Sheppard is an aviation journalist and pilot based at Redhill Aerodrome, near London Gatwick Airport. Ian graduated in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bath in 1992, and after postgraduate studies in avionics and flight dynamics at Cranfield, worked for the Royal Aeronautical Society in the 90s. He has been a reporter for Flight International and Aviation International News, where he is currently Senior Editor - International, and News Editor for GA Buyer Europe magazine. Before that he edited AOPA UK's magazine, the ERA magazine and African Aerospace. Ian worked for Airclaims, 2000-4, before gaining legal qualifications, but decided to continue in aviation media rather than become a lawyer. He has a CPL and FI having originally learned to fly in 1991.