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The General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC), which represents the interests of some 40 aviation organisations to Parliament, has welcomed last week’s appointment of Grant Shapps MP as UK Secretary of State for Transport.

In taking up his new role, Mr. Shapps was obliged to stand down as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation (APPG-GA) which under his leadership has reinvigorated a general aviation sector that has struggled for many years, in particular spearheading a campaign to support airfields at a higher level as they come under constant threat from housing developers.

Charles Henry FRAeS, chairman of the GAAC, said: “During his tenure as chairman of the GA APPG, Grant Shapps was instrumental in promoting the aims of the Tax and Regulation Working Group. Just one example was his arrangement of a face-to-face meeting with the Chancellor in order that the plight of our Air Training Organisations, needing to charge VAT on Professional Flight Training, might be addressed.

“Unfortunately, the Ministerial Code means that his role as chairman must end, but we look forward to working with him in his new position as Transport Secretary and wish him every success.”

John Gilder, GAAC co-vice-chair and chair of the APPG’s Airfields Working Group, who worked very closely with Shapps over the past few years, said: “The GA community should be grateful to Grant Shapps. Under his guidance, APPG-GA membership has grown significantly and shown the benefit unanimity of purpose has when making representations that influence the outlook of ministries and Parliament towards the future benefits of protecting and energising GA in the UK.

“His personal approach and established position within the Conservative Party has enabled the Working Groups to talk directly with ministers and senior civil servants and provide relevant case studies of the issues that need to be understood and addressed. While no longer able to take a direct role in the APPG he will surely wish to foster the continuation of its progress to date through his new role at the Department of Transport.”

The APPG said on 24th July that it wished Grant Shapps the very best in his new role and confirmed he had resigned his position as chair effective immediately. “The APPG will be appointing an interim chair in the coming days,” it added, “until then the APPG and its team will continue to function as normal, working with the new Administration to make the UK the best place in the world for General Aviation.”

While Shapps chaired the APPG he set in motion the building of a permanent secretariat, set up several working groups and was instrumental in persuading more than 200 Parliamentarians (MPs and Lords) to support the group, which has come to have the largest following of any APPG in Westminster.

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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