THE EUROPEAN business-aviation fleet grew by 10% during 1996, with 2,051 aircraft registered, against 1,857 logged in the previous year.

The increase came mainly in France (115 more aircraft), the UK (32), Sweden (nine) and Turkey (16), according to the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), which held its third annual convention in Brussels, Belgium, in March.

Fleet-replacement programmes are in full swing, says the EBAA. "One survey found that European operators expect to replace 16% of their fleets in the next five years, and that they will buy aircraft with larger cabins and more range," the Association adds.

Liberalisation is making access to airports more difficult for business-aircraft users, according to EBAA chief executive officer Ferdinand François. "We've had some successes, notably in Milan where we persuaded the Linate airport authorities to give us slots," Francois adds.

London City Airport, based in the Docklands has witnessed an increase in business operations because of slot problems at Heathrow, while access to Frankfurt is expected to improve, following the departure of three airlines from the airport.

The EBAA took on a further 20 members in 1996, and says that membership is "growing rapidly". One of its main issues is over the European Joint Aviation Authorities' proposal to restrict extended-range twin-engined business-jet operations to 120min, which would force operators to make refuelling stops on all Atlantic crossings.

"In 30 years of twin-engined operations, there has been not one accident because of an engine shutdown", says the EBAA. "We are fighting this very hard," it adds.

Another issue is the introduction of reduced vertical-separation minima and the resulting cost to business aviators.

Source: Flight International