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Updates from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA)

December 12, 2018

General Aviation at the heart of high-tech jobs and skills

We all know that General Aviation creates some of the most cutting-edge jobs in our economy – yet policy-makers haven’t always understood this point. So here at the APPG-GA we have created our fifth Working Group on aviation STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Jobs and Skills.

This new sub-group – launched with the help of our Ambassador Carol Voderman – will engage politicians in working on ambitious policies to promote STEM in aviation. We believe that the UK should be at the heart of global aviation. So this Working Group will shortly publish its 2019 programme setting out how grass-roots aviation can help the UK unleash a wave of well-paid, high-tech jobs this country needs.

Exchanging medicals

In early October the APPG-GA sent a joint letter, alongside our American equivalent organisation in the US Congress, to the FAA, CAA and EASA. The objective, to encourage greater harmonisation of medicals. Whilst we do not expect immediate international agreement, the CAA seem receptive to the idea. A copy of the actual letter can be viewed on our website.

 Without airfields, there is no aviation

You might recall that the APPG-GA successfully campaigned for changes to the most important planning document in the country – the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). As a result, the framework’s update included specific recognition for General Aviation airfields for the very first time; complete with our own paragraph 104f bolstering the importance of airfields in the planning hierarchy.

However, it is never job done when it comes to protecting and enhancing the UK’s airfield network, so here are a number of other important items we’ve been working on:

  • The recent NPPF update provides protection for churches and live music venues, meaning that residents moving into an area cannot then close them down. Parliamentarians believe the same protection must apply for airfields. Ministers have been receptive and, at a recent meeting, agreed to work with the APPG to turn this goal into reality. Fresh guidance is expected in the spring.
  • The CAA is not currently required to comment on the vast majority of planning applications that could impact on an airfield’s future operation. So the APPG has called on the Transport Secretary of State to consider the safeguarding obligations invested in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). A copy of the letter is on our website.
  • Our excellent Airfield Working Group has been assisting many aerodromes, some under threat, but excitingly others about re-opening – including Manston and Plymouth. Elsewhere, we are supporting a local group working on opening up a new airfield!

Taxing pilot training

Our Tax & Regulations Working Group has been explaining to HM Treasury how Pilot Training in the UK has suffered by the application of unjust VAT being applied to it.

Following a meeting in July with the APPG-GA, the Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote to the group recognising that “new pilots are essential for the growth and sustainability of the UK aviation sector”. He pledged that HM Treasury will continue to work with the APPG-GA and the aviation sector. A copy of the Chancellor’s letter can be viewed on our website.

Following up on this letter, our APPG-GA Chair, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, spoke in the Budget Debate highlighting the same issue. You can watch the video pinned to the top of our twitter feed here http://www.twitter.com/appg_ga – and please follow us whilst you’re there.

Airspace belongs to everyone

Parliamentarians on the Airspace Working Group have begun hearing evidence in the Lord Kirkhope Airspace Inquiry. These oral hearings follow the excellent response to our ‘call for evidence’. Tapes of the oral hearings can be found on the APPG website.

The Airspace Inquiry report is expected, complete with recommendations, next spring and parliamentarians are already making it clear to ministers and the CAA that they will consider introducing legislation to make the sharing of airspace more equitable.

In addition, the Airspace Working Group is pushing forward work on several other important issues including Airspace Change Proposals, Electronic Conspicuity and the slow introduction of GPS approaches

Heritage aviation

Our Heritage Working Group is striving to ensure our unique aviation history is never lost.

From trying to persuade the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that it would be better to release Air Cadet gliders for civilian acquisition instead of scrapping them, to ensuring that military aircraft can be acquired by air museums to be saved for the nation. The Heritage Working Group will shortly publish its 2019 works programme on our website and it is sure to be packed with parliamentary-led heritage campaigning.

And there’s more – much more…

The APPG-GA has been busy holding discussions about how to better support General Aviation and visiting numerous aviation-related organisations.

Representatives of the APPG-GA travelled to Vienna to contribute to the 2018 EASA Annual Safety Conference in November. This conference was partly inspired by an earlier British Red-Tape-Challenge process designed to reduce aviation regulation. EASA took up the cause and this two-day conference was a follow-up to create the deregulatory road-map for the next four years.

Parliamentarians have also made numerous fact-finding tours to airfields and aviation-related organisations. These included London City Airport, Chalgrove where Martin Baker makes the majority of the world’s ejection seats and Lasham airfield, who have just won the right to open a Judicial Review into planned Farnborough Airspace changes. The APPG also attended the London City STEM workshop at Excel London along with 400 STEM Students and criss-crossed the country studying every aspect of General Aviation.

And finally for now…

There are All-Party Groups (or APPG’s) on just about every subject under the sun, but I’m delighted to announce that our APPG on General Aviation is now the largest in this parliament, with an incredibly 177 parliamentarians from across both Houses and every political party.

I plan to send the next update early in the New Year when I’ll bring you updates on our 2019 work programmes for each of our Working Groups. For reference, these are currently: Airfields, Airspace, Tax & Regulations, Heritage and STEM Jobs & Skills. Everything we do is about trying to help ensure that the UK becomes the best country in the world for General Aviation. And that’s very much a work in progress!

But in the meanwhile, from all of us at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, may we wish you a very merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Everything you’ve read about is covered in far more detail on our website, along with letters, videos, calls for evidence and much more, so be sure to come visit at www.generalaviationappg.uk


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