Chairman’s Report to the 22nd Annual General Meeting
15th June 2018, Wycombe Air Park
Welcome to our 22nd AGM and my thanks to all who have enabled the GAAC to continue its work as the recognised single voice for the GA Community on all matters related to airfields.
DfT response to the GAAC Ministerial Briefing Paper
Last year the GAAC prepared a paper for the then Minister for Aviation, Lord Ahmad, setting out the need to identify a Network of Airfields of strategic importance to the UK Economy, which recognised the different needs of the many sectors of GA.
The DfT responded to this paper by appointing York Aviation in January 2018 ‘… to undertake a study concerning the identification of a strategic network of general aviation aerodromes.’
The initial findings by York Aviation confirm:
1. 1. That there is no single network – GA is too disparate.
2. 2. There is segmentation between user groups.
3. 3. The functioning of the network is about ‘capability’ and ‘access’.
4. 4. The network is not static and must accommodate future needs.
5. 5. Future needs will recognise the use of autonomous aerial systems providing both freight and personal transport.
The GAAC has met with York Aviation both jointly with others and to provide guidance and we look forward to the outcome of their deliberations.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG)
During the past year the APPG for GA was set up to become the voice of General Aviation in Parliament. This is supported by 150 Parliamentary members from across all parties and both Houses of Parliament. It is an influential Group and I am glad to report that the GAAC is a primary participant in the Working Groups. Indeed, John Gilder, your vice-chairman, chairs the APPG Working Group on Airfields and I chair the APPG Working Group on Tax and Regulation. Meanwhile The Airspace Working Group is chaired by Pete Stratten of the BGA.
We are also pleased to say that many members of our Board also serve on these working groups and represent your diverse aviation interests. Notable achievements so far have enabled Government to recognise that the wider aviation sector supported by GA contributes some £60 Billion to the UK economy and that Government’s objective is to make the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation.
Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) have already confirmed that ‘Planning Policies should….recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation facilities – taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs…and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy.’
All supporters of GA are invited to raise valid questions on GA concerns which the GAAC will put forward to be raised in Parliament. Baroness Sugg is the current Minister for Aviation.
Closely aligned with the new Government recognition of GA was the appointment of Byron Davies as the GA Champion at the DfT. We are in very regular contact with Byron and glad for the high level contact he provides. Indeed, Chris Grayling the Secretary of State at the DfT is also being most helpful.
Briefly, as nothing is yet decided, it is my view that it should be perfectly possible for the UK to participate as an ‘Associated Country’ in the same way as Iceland; Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and continue under EASA’s safety legislation. Hopefully, reason will prevail and a smooth transition be endorsed in the interests of all ‘Member States’ as EASA (for simplicity) currently refers to the 28 EU Members and the four Associated Countries.
Our liaison with the CAA continues to be excellent and this year we would thank Andrew Haines, who retires this year, for his help as well as welcome Richard Moriarty as his successor. We must also acknowledge continued support for GA from Tony Rapson.
The GAAC has advanced its real influence on achieving change for the benefit of GA at minimal costs thanks to the support of our major donors. But we are still slowly eroding our reserves as we make a small loss each year despite all the voluntary unpaid work of our Board and Working Group Members.
We have to address this issue and would ask all to consider whether they receive value for their support….and, if possible, consider contributing a little more. It will be money well spent. We shall also work to spread our net more widely to the flying community and have plans which we hope will come to fruition in the year ahead. Likewise we need to improve our communications and this, too, is in hand.
It remains only for me to thank my fellow officers: John Gilder whose work on the APPG alone would more than keep him busy; Roger Wilson who keeps our Accounts under control and Jonathan Morton for his guidance to me and arrangements for our Meetings in which connection I must also thank Mandy Sarney for providing us with our room today.
I would also thank all the members of our Board and Working Group for their input throughout the year…without which we could not have provided the necessary information to Government, Regulators and others which keeps GA meeting the challenges it faces.
Charles Henry FRAeS