Over the past 30 years we have gone from an ICAO/UK based regulatory framework for aviation through the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA -which still exists) system to EASA. The JAA was basically a club of regulators across Europe that decided to harmonise aviation rules. Not such a bad idea! However, their method of harmonisation was to raise the regulatory ‘bar’, as it was easier to achieve agreements, where higher standard were adopted- hence the reason why we have to fly 12 hours (minimum) in the last 12 months of a 24 month period, including one hour dual with an instructor. This was done to keep Germany in the loop as their system required 12 hours p.a., whereas in the UK it was five hours in 13 months.
The JAA system was, and still is, the baseline for the EASA system, although the EASA system is underpinned by regulation EU 216/2008- This has recently been amended and since the 4th July 2018 Regulation EU 2018/1139 has been inforce. Generally this is seen as an improvement over the 216/2008 which was in place for the last 10 years.
The revised regulation which has been adopted will form the basis of UK aviation legislation even after BREXIT. EASA will have 5 years in which to bring into line with the new EU 2018/1139 Basic Regulation and 2 years for light GA. EASA rules are developed to meet the intent of the regulation which is now based on proportionality and risk. There is still a requirement for impact assessments to support new rules which we think needs better oversights with respect to the quality of the assessment output. How can EASA produce meaningful impact assessments for 28 member states that have different economies and different levels of GA activity?
The new GA Road Map seems to base future of GA around new technology, which is often expensive, particularly with respect to electric / hybrid engines. I would hope that EASA looks at where they need to regulate GA, only regulating where they have to and use to a greater extent industry best practice.
If we want GA to grow we need to make the activity available and attractive to more people, so we must look at what the barriers are to entry and, in that vein, COST is a major factor because GA is based on individuals discretionary income. I have spoken with many pilots who have stopped flying because they say it has become too expensive and according to a study commissioned by the DfT (York report) the annual number of flying hours has fallen by 45% since the peak. Fuel price and the general state of the economy have all had an impact.
Therefore it must be incumbent on regulators to make sure that there are no unnecessary hurdles or costs that prevent people from learning to fly. Safety is important but not at any price as that is not affordable – last year 99 people died as a result of swimming in the seas around the UK less than a third of that number died light aircraft. I am pleased that after many years of lobbying the new regulatory approach from Europe and the UK is based on risk and proportionality to the activity being undertaken. We need to attack unnecessary costs and especially overregulation if we want to make GA affordable to the many and not just the few.
The entire aviation infrastructure from airspace to aerodromes to aircraft sales and more depends on new pilots entering aviation and retaining them. How do we achieve that? Thoughts by email to firstname.lastname@example.org