Mission Aviation Fellowship

Government General Aviation champion Byron Davies to report on value of GA

GA champion Byrone Davies and Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg visiting Elstree aerodrome

GA champion Byrone Davies and Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg visiting Elstree aerodrome

The Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, confirmed the appointment of Byron Davies as its first ever General Aviation Champion to help identify a network of UK aerodromes that are most important for non-scheduled flying to flourish. She made the announcement while visiting Elstree Aerodrome to discuss the importance of private flying to the economy with representatives of the General Aviation community.

Byron Davies will lead the research project and engage with fliers to identify a network of strategically important airfields to help the general aviation sector develop. The new General Aviation Champion, who was the founding chairman of the General Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), will deliver a report on the value of general aviation to the economy. He will have the help of York Aviation, which has been commissioned by the government to carry out research on airfields of strategic significance.

The APPG believes that establishing a strategic network of aerodromes will ensure a balance between transport and housing development priorities, protecting the general aviation sector’s contribution to the UK economy.

Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said:

Smaller airfields and the pilots who use them contribute £3 billion to our economy and support more than 38,000 jobs, be that through business jet operations, flying schools or leisure flying. We want to preserve these benefits of General Aviation and ensure appropriate and proportionate protection for the significant parts of this network that underpin that contribution.

Byron brings both passion and expertise to the role and I am confident he will work closely with fliers and researchers to shape the future of the general aviation network within the UK.”

Byron Davies will work with commercial, business and leisure fliers to understand how their activity contributes to the sector.

Commenting on his appointment as General Aviation Champion, Byron Davies said:

This is an exciting opportunity for general aviation and I’m delighted to have been asked to undertake this piece of work.The sector makes a major contribution to the economy and it’s only right that its voice is heard at all levels of government.

I look forward very much to engaging with the aviation community over the coming months.”

The General Aviation Champion has been appointed for 12 months and will gather evidence of the sector’s value to the economy and the need for a protected network of airfields.

The ‘round table’ discussion at Elstree Aerodrome with the Aviation Minister included Byron Davies and Grant Shapps from the General Aviation APPG in addition to representatives from several GA organisations and the GA press. As well as discussing the importance of maintaining a network of airfields with General Aviation access, other topics raised included the growth of controlled airspace, taxation of aviation training, the movement of professional flying training to outside the UK, access to military airfields and the lack of access to many larger airfields for GA operations. Baroness Sugg proved to be well-briefed and fully engaged in the discussion, which is believed to be the first time ever that a UK Aviation Minister has engaged so closely with ‘grass roots’ representatives from the General Aviation community. One veteran journalist present commented that in over 50 years of reporting on aviation and general aviation matters, he could not recall an equivalent occasion. The General Aviation APPG itself continues to grow in influence and membership, it now has 130 parliamentary members including 19 Privy Councillors, 11 former Cabinet ministers, 3 former Transport Ministers and one current Party Leader. Working groups have been formed to look at the airfield network and the taxation of flying training, with other working groups being considered.

Public Terms of Reference for GA Champion

General Aviation has played an important part in the valuable aviation economic eco-system. Many of today’s pilots, aircrew and engineers first came into contact and were inspired by the sector through general aviation leisure activities. At the other end of the wide general aviation spectrum the business aviation sector ensures high value individuals are able to access the destinations they need to quickly and efficiently go about their business – which delivers high economic value to the UK. Across the spectrum of general aviation activity research has indicated that the sector delivers in excess of £3bn of added economic value to the UK annually, supporting in excess of 38,000 jobs.

As we seek to develop the UK’s aviation sector it will be important to ensure that we balance the economic contribution of the General Aviation sector with housing and commercial priorities, and that we identify exactly how this contribution is delivered, and what constitutes the critical infrastructure that is necessary to deliver them.

The General Aviation Champion will have two roles, one to help Government develop an understanding of these issues and the other to engage with stakeholders to ensure that understanding is grounded in the knowledge and experience of the sector. The champion will steer research into the value of the sector to the economy with the aim of providing evidence to underpin the identification and protection of a strategic network of airfields critical to the long term delivery of the sector’s economic benefit

Author: Adrian Mahovics

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