Brussels, 11th January 2008
Today, the European Commission has adopted an agenda for general and business aviation in Europe. For the first time since the creation of the EU internal aviation market, the Commission has studied this sector, quantified its value and identified the challenges that it is facing. The Commission now proposes to integrate general and business aviation into the EU air transport policy. Improving data gathering, screening of legislation to ensure proportionality and integrating general and business aviation into the capacity optimisation initiatives are the main elements of this agenda.
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for transport, said: "We fully recognise the value of non-commercial aviation and intend to work with this sector in Europe, as it is a large source of employment, expertise, technology and revenues".
General and business aviation is a very diverse sector which greatly differs from the wider airline industry. These activities mainly involve small and medium-sized enterprises or not-for-profit organisations relying on volunteers. Very often these organisations or small firms have limited resources to keep up with changes in regulatory or technical requirements. The EU air transport policy has to recognise these specificities.
The increase of air traffic in Europe necessitates the inclusion of general and business aviation in initiatives for optimising limited aviation infrastructure and capacity. Also, despite technological developments, general and business aviation has an impact on the environment, and, like the wider airline industry or any other means of transport, it must seek to minimise these impacts.
General and business aviation offers flexible transportation for individuals,
enterprises and local communities, increasing mobility of people, productivity
of enterprises and regional cohesion. It provides high value services to the
general public, including environmental surveillance, fire-fighting, map
charting and emergency medical transportation. Recreational and sport aviation,
by promoting technical knowledge and aeronautical skills, is an important source
of qualified staff for the broader aviation industry.
 General and business aviation encompasses activities ranging from recreational flying with non-powered aircraft to complex operation of high-performance business jets and specialised aerial works. There are up to 50.000 motor-powered general and business aviation aircraft in Europe. In addition, about 180.000 – 200.000 of microlight and non motor powered aircraft are used for sport and recreation. In 2006 nearly 10% of all aircraft movements registered by EUROCONTROL could be attributed to this quickly growing sector.