Proponents of commercial operation of single-engined turboprop business aircraft in Europe are claiming to be at a high point, following a recommendation from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, although such hopes have been dashed before.

The Single Engine Turboprop Alliance (SETA), a grouping that includes manufacturers Cessna, EADS Socata and Pilatus as well as operators, says that the decision in March by ICAO to clear the commercial use of single-engined turboprops under instrument flight rules should finally convince more conservative European countries to reverse a ban after seven years of lobbying.

SETA has suffered many previous last-minute setbacks when signs of an end to the ban had been similarly visible, largely due to some vocal nations in the 36-country Joint Aviation Authorities Committee (JAAC) blocking any alteration, says Ronald Ashford, aviation and safety consultant and president of SETA.

The JAAC will meet in June and SETA hopes that the ICAO decision, which will enter into force in November, will push the recalcitrant countries, led by the UK, into accepting the inevitable rather than imposing what could only be a one-year opt-out from the ICAO code.

The JAA's successor, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), is likely to permit single-engine turboprops to operate commercially under instrument flight rules once it takes over responsibility for operational requirements in 2007.

Source: Flight International