Body warns that Eurocontrol's draft rules for air traffic services could prove devastating for many aircraft users

Leisure general aviation, most helicopter and utility visual flight rules (VFR) operations, and the flight training industry in Europe will be decimated if Eurocontrol's draft rules for common air traffic services (ATS) under the Single European Sky (SES) legislation are implemented, according to the European Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (AOPA).

The document is a template for national user charging systems intended to enforce uniformity and transparency.

The main problem forecast by the general aviation industry is that the proposed system would require charges to be levied on users of uncontrolled airspace who are not currently charged in Europe or anywhere else in the world, and AOPAs across Europe are filing objections to this and other aspects of the proposal. A general complaint is that the deadline of 17 September for filing comments is an unreasonably short time to assess the effects of the change.

The UK AOPA points out most GA aircraft do not use services from air navigation service providers (ANSP) and do not need them, requiring only aviation information, aerodrome and meteorological services. UK AOPA says most GA aircraft navigate visually using charts and satellite navigation systems like GPS, which is free to all users, carry out separation by see-and-avoid, and do not use controlled airspace, so en-route charges are irrelevant. As for aerodrome charges, GA users pay landing fees at present and do not see a need for any change. But light aircraft from flying schools training pilots for instrument ratings would be liable for en-route charges and instrument flight rules approach charges by airports, says UK AOPA, who says this could drive all flying training schools out of Europe.

UK AOPA chief executive Martin Robinson says the proposals are full of anomalies and inconsistencies, quoting the fact that no cross-subsidisation is allowed in the charging system. He maintains airlines are "subsidised" by not having to pay tax on fuel and not having to charge value added tax on ticket sales, while most GA operators earn no revenue and pay tax on fuel.



Source: Flight International