The AeroExpo is a pinnacle of the aviation calendar and I’m delighted to be here and I’d like to thank Andrew Haines for his kind introduction.
You’ll hear from Grant Shapps about the huge value we believe the general aviation sectors holds for Britain. There’s the value to the economy - it creates thousands of jobs and supports British manufacturing - but there’s a deeper value than that.
The stories of pioneers - like Amelia Earhart - resonate down the ages inspiring future generations to take up flight. And seeing these magnificent aircraft, on the ground or in the air, you can see just why many thousands of people have gathered here to share their passion for flight.
That’s why general aviation is important and why I take my responsibility for the sector seriously. So I’d just like to say a few words about what we are doing to reform regulation and support the sector’s growth.
I know the sector has endured difficult headwinds following the recession caused by the financial crisis.
But, thanks to our long term economic plan, which is now starting to bear fruit, the dark economic clouds are lifting and VFR conditions are returning. But, as serious as the turbulence caused by the financial crisis was, there was another, deeper, problem.
You face a constant challenge to keep your aircraft in the air, your licences in order and to maintain safety and you need to be regulated in a way that helps, not hinders, you in doing so.
And I think it has to be said that frankly - as well intentioned as it was – the burden of regulation was becoming too heavy to lift.
You may know that Grant Shapps is an experience pilot. I certainly do. Because as soon as I started this job, he called with a few words of gentle encouragement.
So we started from the view that general aviation requires different, and less onerous, regulation than commercial air transport. So we set up the general aviation red tape challenge last year and I would like to take this opportunity to those here today, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the British Business and General Aviation Association, who contributed.
The CAA immediately began the process of reform and last November we established the General Aviation Challenge Panel who reported this week.
If you’ve not seen the report yet, I would encourage you to take a look.
It is a substantial and impressive piece of work and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the panel for their hard work. I know that Laurie Price, Julian Scarfe and Edward Bellamy are all here, but thank you also to the other panellists who have not been able to attend.
And I would like to commend Andrew Haines and Tony Rapson, who you’ll hear from shortly, for their excellent work at the CAA so far.
We will issue the formal government response to the panel’s findings in the summer but I want to give you a flavour of our thinking.
First, we agree we need to update the data on the general aviation sector and its contribution to the economy. So we will commission expert research that we expect to be available early next year.
Second, we want to cut unnecessary regulation further. I was pleased the CAA requested an exemption for all single seat microlights from the requirement to have a noise test and to hold a noise certificate. I agree with them that this testing is unnecessary, bureaucratic and an unreasonable cost. I want to see more examples like this in the future. So, we will explore with the CAA the opportunity for a full review of the Air Navigation Order.
Third, we want to see both government and the CAA become more accountable to you and for you to be able to challenge us more. Working with you we will develop a wider strategy for the sector. It will include milestones against which we will measure our progress and the CAA’s improvement. We will set out all the details in the formal response to the panel report.
So, to sum up. general aviation is important. We want the sector to grow and for more people to enjoy the chance to fly.
The government’s aim is to make the UK the best country in the world for general aviation.
I look forward to working with you to make that happen.