IAOPA 2002 World Assembly

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Forging The Future For General Aviation and Aerial Work

The 40th anniversary of IAOPA, and its 21st World Assembly, was celebrated in Sao Paulo, Brazil from September 29 to October 4, 2002, under the banner of the above title. Our hosts were AOPA Brazil, headed by Allan Lowy and his wife Maria who saw to it that the gathering was a memorable one.

IAOPA President Phil Boyer presided over the deliberations of the 56 affiliate states to IAOPA, 17 of those states having sent their AOPA delegates to the Assembly. Phil Boyer outlined the challenges facing IAOPA's 450 000 members. These ranged from security issues, access to airports, rising costs, public perception of the value of GA, to the declining pilot population. On the other hand, he reminded us of our strengths: passion, solidarity among pilots, strength in our numbers, political support, technological innovation and new aircraft products. He challenged the Assembly to identify the major issues facing us, to promote understanding, to devise alternative solutions to the challenges facing us, and to take action on these items.

Jack Howell, Director of the Air Navigation Bureau of ICAO addressed the Assembly as keynote speaker, indicating that the Assembly had to develop policies which would be actioned for implementation over the next two years. He reminded the Assembly that the prognosis is for ever more aircraft. GA therefore has to consider all the forces reduced available airspace, more aircraft, fewer airports, increased safety and it needs to consider and reconcile its role under all these forces. GA has to continue to pool its resources and expend its good will so that cooperation, consensus, compliance and commitment may be maintained by all participants and regulating bodies, for all forms of air traffic.

Delegates reported on the state of GA in their respective countries. Some might consider the reports as a compendium of horror stories. In the USA the rate of private use airport closures is about 100 / year. 29% of all airports are threatened to close. Poland uses only one VHF frequency for all its GA traffic. Landing charges for GA aircraft in Europe vary from $15 (that is per touch and go) to $75 if at night. It takes 18 months of study in the Netherlands to prepare to write a PPL examination. In the Phillipines an aviation accident results in criminal charges being laid. All of India has only 700 aircraft. Russia has no rules for GA in place, not even a registry. Sweden's AOPA has a membership 2/3 of which is over 50 years of age. The British National Pilot Licence, similar to our Recreational Pilot Permit, is touted to be the saviour of private flying in the UK. I have to state that hearing the state of flying in the various states has made me profoundly aware of the difficulty GA faces world-wide.

I was privileged to attend on behalf of COPA and President Kevin Psutka who stayed home to devote his time to some pressing issues in Canada. As the COPA representative to the Assembly I delivered the address outlining the state of our organization in Canada, its successes and its aspirations. As well, in my capacity as the ICAO representative of IAOPA I was able to brief the Assembly on matters affecting General Aviation as generated by or through ICAO. The prime concern this past year has been IAOPA's participation in the Aviation Security Panel (AVSEC) because IAOPA tried, and succeeded, in getting General Aviation's needs recognized as being distinct from the needs of Commercial Aviation.

This past year has been a critical one for General Aviation in that our ability to access airports and airspace has been reduced and is further threatened to be made still more difficult. In an effort to show its interest in public safety IAOPA was challenged to participate in a risk analysis posed by GA aircraft. IAOPA did so by commissioning an extensive study, a study that was provided to the ICAO AVSEC Panel in September. It is hoped that the risk posed by GA will be maintained in the proper perspective by the public and regulators alike, and that constraints will be applied only to those aircraft and operations which pose a real threat to the public.

Fifteen resolutions were considered by the assembly. Some were withdrawn after careful discussion. Others were modified.

Not only was I pleased to meet face-to-face for the first time with may of the delegates with whom I had corresponded, but some refreshing insights were exchanged, usually over supper or during the coffee breaks. These included the attempt to "get GA's story straight". We need to work with our neighbours who tend to focus on noise, not utility. We need to sell 'Transportation', not necessarily flying. We should strive for only one licence - a GA licence. "Sport", "Recreation", "Private" licences are misnomers and generate the wrong impression for what use our aircraft are put.

I have returned from my meetings in Brazil to face another ICAO Panel, this one on Flight Crew Licensing and Training. I will be attending this panel with the view of providing input into the licensing issues as they affect General Aviation licenses.

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Frank Hofmann
Copyright © 2002