The Government has recently published a call for evidence on the new Aviation Strategy and the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP has asked all stakeholders to contribute their own feedback.

The Government has recently published a call for evidence on the new Aviation Strategy. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for General Aviation, chaired by the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, assumes that most stakeholders will present their own thoughts and suggestions, which will assist the APPG to decide how to lobby Government. Deadline for responses is 13 October.

Full information is at The consultation is in three phases. The main part referring to GA is to be dealt with in the first half of 2018 but makes very little reference to GA other than a paragraph in section 6 entitled ‘Encourage Competitive markets’, subsection 6.17 ‘Making the Most of our General Aviation Networks’. The consultation is silent on recognising the massive recruitment shortfall the aviation industry faces and how it might be addressed, and makes no reference to the important role GA must play in addressing that.

Grant Shapps believes the APPG’s response should be focussed around the following issues:

1. GA and industry recruitment: without GA, industry will not be able to fill all the vacancies in the sector that is so crucial to the UK economy. The industry needs 500,000 pilots and 600,000 engineers worldwide over the next thirty years plus other specialists such as ATCOs and designers. GA is the foundation of all this.

2. GA and UK regional connectivity: use GA to help UK regional connectivity, particularly now that SE-IMC is permitted in UK. Alongside around fifty UK commercial airports with regular scheduled services, there are 500 airfields where air taxis, ad hoc services or business aviation can help improve connectivity across the country.

3. GA Statistics for planning: we need up-to-date data on GA pilot licences issued and overall activity in the GA sector (“I believe the picture is not as bad as presented, because some data is no longer collected from flight training schools now operating legally from unlicensed airfields, so the number of flights/level of activity does not necessarily get reported to, and thus by the CAA”, said Grant Shapps).

4. VAT on flying training and tax on avgas: we should seek a level playing field with overseas training organisations and competitors. Flying training is the only academic/vocational training in the UK subject to VAT; it puts UK flight training schools at a significant disadvantage, as does the additional tax on avgas, still the most widely used aviation fuel.

5. GA and education/training: integrate flying training into STEM and other government education initiatives. Encourage young people into aviation via cadet and other organisations, adapting school curricula.

6. Maintaining the network of UK airfields to help connectivity, regional access, economic development and employment: de-designate them as brownfield sites and stop airfield closures. Fewer airfields mean fewer places to train future pilots and engineers.

7. GA access to airspace: limit the impact of airspace restrictions on GA and update the role and consistency of DAP decisions.

The deadline for initial responses is 13 October 2017, preferably by the online form but also accepted by email to Grant Shapps asks all stakeholders (including Pilot readers) to let the APPG have their thoughts and copies of their own consultation feedback, saying “This will greatly help us coordinate our cross-party approach to supporting General Aviation in Parliament.”

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