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On 29th January Grant Shapps MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation, gave briefed journalists at Westminster. He said 186 MPs and Lords now support the Group, and the aim is to surpass 200. “We are by a long distance the largest APPG and we have a good cross-arty mix,” remarked Shapps.
He noted that six working groups had now been set up, and that the Group had arranged “lots of visits with lots more planned.”
Of 2018 achievements he said having para 104f inserted in the National Planning Policy Framework was a major step forward, “But there is more work to do on the NPPF…in particular by adding a Church Bells provision so people can’t move in and complain about something that has been there for decades. We need to avoid the situation we had [leading to a long Court battle] at Denham.”
Section 104f “clearly helped” in the “great news” that Redhill Aerodrome was no longer part of the Draft Local Plan as it was a flood plain unsuitable for housing. “However the next day Gamston came up [as being under threat].”
He noted that APPG existed to “add value” to the work the General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC), which is very involved chairing APPG working groups.
Shapps noted a Congressman’s remarks during the APPG’s visit to the US (including to Oshkosh and Washington, DC) last year that “without aviation there would be no Great Britain!” On that topic, the group will visit the U.S. again this year but will also visit ICAO in Montreal.
He noted that “we need to go further” than defending airfields and creating a Network of Airfields; “We need to start opening airfields again. Derby was the last [licensed airfield established], around 25 years ago.”
The Airspace Working Group has been busy hearing evidence as part of its inquiry, he said, and this would feed into the Government’s Aviation Green Paper (that this summer will become a White Paper). In particular he pointed out, “It’s not clear why the power to give away airspace rests with the regulators.”
Electronic conspicuity equipment for a ‘known aviation environment’ is a key area, he said. Attending the EASA GA conference last year it was clear to Shapps that “EASA is in the right place on this–interoperability” while the CAA “is in the wrong place.” He welcomed that the new head of the CAA GA Unit, Rachel Gardner-Poole, who will replace Tony Rapson, will report to CAA chief executive, Richard Moriarty.
This should also free up progress on establishment of more GPS approaches, with the UK being well behind France, Germany and the US. He said it was “outrageous” and a ministerial edict on this had been “ignored” to proceed with developing GPS approaches for GA.
Shapps noted that APPG was involved in the Duxford Aviation Day on 27th April and also believed in having one big UK general aviation show, apart from the LAA Rally, this being AeroExpo (this year taking place at Wycombe/Booker Airfield, 13-15 June).
Finally, Shapps said he believed other European countries should have the equivalent of the APPG for GA, to influence lawmakers. In the U.S. the equivalent is the Congressional Caucus, which is a strong supporter of general aviation. He also said that the UK APPG for GA was now sufficiently established to survive through general elections, as was proved last year, while recognising the need to work with the GAAC as the collective lobbying body for 40 aviation associations.
www.generalaviationappg.uk

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.
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