UK general aviation leaders are warning that new safety charges for light aircraft could cripple the industry and lead to owners registering their aircraft in other European countries.

Next week the UK Civil Aviation Authority will close its consultation period on proposed changes to its charges structure. The authority, which is the only European airworthiness body to be user-funded rather than from taxation, is seeking to “bring charges more closely in line with resources actually used” following criticism from airlines including British Airways that GA is subsidised by commercial aviation. The proposed charges, scheduled to come into force from January next year, include increases for GA and helicopter air operator certificates, aerodrome air traffic control licensing (AOC), personnel licensing and airworthiness controls.

The British Business & General Aviation Association (BBGA) is warning that although price increases of 25% are scheduled for 2006, fees could spiral over coming years to satisfy airline demands. The BBGA, along with the UK arm of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the British Helicopter Advisory Board and around 50 flight schools, has commissioned an economic impact assessment study by consultants Helios Technology. Martin Robinson, AOPA UK chief executive, says: “The CAA says these are small increases, but what will they do to training rates, what will they do to engineering costs? This study will provide the true cost.”

The BBGA, which was the only GA body on the CAA’s joint review team for the proposal, says it will present an objection to the CAA in its official response next week. “While we accept that some increases are necessary, we want any increase coupled with a full strategic review of GA fees including an AOC review and aerodrome charges review,” says Mark Wilson, BBGA chief executive.

The BBGA warns that GA operators in south-east England will re-register their aircraft in nearby countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands.


Source: Flight International