Finally, an answer to the Heathrow problem?

Is a foreign holiday a luxury, only for those who can afford them? Or a necessity that should be available to everyone regardless of income? According to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), it is the latter. At least if you are British.

The CBT is up in arms at proposals to deal with increasing aviation emissions by introducing some sort of carbon tax. According to the CBT, this approach will mean foreign holidays are no longer affordable for many people. A problem that, in its view, will only be exacerbated by the Airport Commission’s recommendation to expand capacity (and therefore emissions) at Heathrow Airport.

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What Europe and the US could learn from Africa about drones

This week Amazon announced that it would be partnering up with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to test its Prime Air delivery service. Amazon’s tests would involve flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), the use of sensors for avoiding obstacles, as well as the possibility of multiple drones controlled by a single operator.

The CAA has been lauded for its part in allowing these tests. Paul Misener, Amazon’s VP of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, has gone as far as claiming that ‘the UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation’.

Misener’s statement served as a not-so-subtle jab at the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), who released their own drone regulations last month.

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There are no facts, only interpretations

You may remember a report from A4E earlier this year claiming that its members are paying 80% more in airport charges in 2014 than they were back in 2005. Europe’s 21 largest airports – which account for 50% of passengers – were accused of increasing their charges by up to 255%.

This report was cited as evidence that airports were abusing their market power and that further regulation is necessary. A4E were also at pains to point out that, in contrast, airlines had reduced their airfares by 20% over the same period.

It’s a modern day tale of good versus evil.

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Space traffic management: Stratospheric thinking

You might be excused for not paying too much attention to space matters. It has been a sleepy hollow for many years, away from the cut and thrust of ATM reform, unfair subsidies and consumer rights. When space makes the news it is because some very rich person has decided to tackle the last frontier for reasons that seem to be as connected to ego as commerce.

But that image is wrong. In May, US House of Representative appropriators approved an amendment to a bill that will raise the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation’s FY2017 budget by $1 million.

The budget increase, amongst other signs, portend further expansion of the Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

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Would the real business aviation please stand up?

Attendees at last month’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva may have been left a bit confused. The business aviation industry cannot seem to agree amongst itself what its role is, or who its customers are.

The industry’s representatives are clearly trying to change the image of business aviation. This was evident in the opening general session, which focussed on extolling the benefits of business aviation from a humanitarian perspective and from a pure economics angle.

The speakers were carefully chosen to support this image. We heard a presentation from the co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontiers, who pointed out that much of the work his organisation, and other organisations like his, did would not be possible without the ability to charter private aircraft. Meanwhile, the billionaire entrepreneur, Bassim Haidar, explained how owning a private aircraft was a cost-effective way for him to run his business.

All very noble and inspiring.

However, on entering the trade show, the bottles of Moët, personalised cutlery on display, glamorous female attendants, and choice of luxurious interiors suggested that much of the industry is marketing itself at a very different customer.

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The Aviation Advocacy acronym competition

The silly season has not yet quite begun (or given that we are into AGM season, perhaps it has), but we feel a need for a little light relief from all the usual problems of the aviation industry.

As you may be aware, the industry loves an acronym. Our personal favourites include the gloriously cheerful FABs (Functional Airspace Blocks) and GLADs (Global Aviation Dialogues). Or how about SARPs (Standards And Recommended Practices), which frankly suggests a doctor’s appointment is needed.

No new aviation initiative would be complete without its own abbreviation. Yes, the question on everyone’s lips is: what will ICAO’s Global Market Based Mechanism (GMBM) be called?

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Why state-ownership is a red herring

The European Cockpit Association and the European Cabin Crew Association have both recently announced their support of the action group Europeans for Fair Competition (e4fc). Ho hum, yet another aviation body that thinks it will be taken more seriously if it spells like a teenager.

According to its website, e4fc is a coalition of employees, passengers and companies who are fighting to save European aviation. By which it means stop Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways from taking market share from the European carriers. How exactly they will do this is left to your imagination. How this saves European aviation is likewise left unspecified. But it will do it. Trust us. Naturally, there is an opportunity to provide donations towards this noble cause on the group’s website.

The usual allegations against the Gulf carriers are repeated. In e4fc’s opinion, competition in European aviation has been distorted due to the subsidies the Gulf airlines receive, including interest-free government loans and government-backed loan guarantees. This puts the jobs of European aviation workers at risk. Unless, of course, they happen to work for an airport, or the carriers in question, or Airbus.

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Registration and identification: worth the effort?

This article was originally published on Drone Alliance Europe’s website. More information on Drone Alliance Europe can be found here.

In the midst of the on-going discussion over how EASA’s proposed ‘Open Category’ drones should be defined, there remains the issue of identification. Whether or not they are ‘toys’,  identifying them and their operators is vital to maintaining civil order. The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) hosted a workshop in mid-May to discuss how such a system might work in the UK.

Despite a full day of discussion, there was agreement on only thing: there definitely needs to be a system of registration and identification.

The broad spectrum of speakers that the RAeS invited made it difficult to find a consensus.

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Airlines continue to tolerate legacy subsidies

The Russian economy is struggling. Falling oil prices, economic sanctions and the decline in the value of the Rouble have pushed the country into recession. Fortunately its national airline, Aeroflot, can still count on a steady income stream, thanks to the overflight fees it levies on foreign airlines flying across Russian airspace.

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Pot. Kettle. Black.

Last month saw the release of a report commissioned by IATA on the economic benefits of modernising European airspace. It estimates total benefits worth between €126 billion and €245 billion by 2035. (Incidentally, a 2011 report in by the consultancy McKinsey put the benefits at €419 billion by 2030 alone. Have the delays in implementing the Single European Sky (SES) already wiped out €200 billion of benefits?)

The purpose of this report is discussed in this month’s Aviation Intelligence Reporter. Think winning hearts and minds. Or rather, bribing hearts and wallets. It is an attempt to persuade member states of the importance of implementing the SES as soon as possible. The Commission, for too long the misplaced target of the airlines’ ire, must also engage in winning hearts and minds. For the current SES packages to succeed, ANSPs and member states need to be persuaded that there is something in it for them

There is one issue in this report that is worth further discussion.

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