The 28th meeting of International Business Aviation Council’s (IBAC) Planning and Operations Committee (POC) recently convened in Montreal, Canada in January. The meeting was hosted by the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) and attended by a number of member associations. MEBAA, as part of the POC, attended on behalf of its members to make sure that the voice of the Middle Eastern industry is represented.
The committee addressed a number of issues concerning business aviation today and I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight what was discussed in relation to our region.
Day one centred around the development of a working group to establish an international business aviation position regarding the application of market-based measures (MBMs) to international aviation, as part of ICAO’s overall approach to address carbon emissions in the sector.
In this regard, ICAO recently established a High-Level Group on Climate Change (HGCC) to provide political guidance on difficult issues relating to the application of MBMs to international aviation, as part of ICAO’s overall approach to address carbon emissions from the sector. At the moment, the industry provides support for the concept of MBMs as one element of a suite of measures to mitigate carbon emissions.
This was clearly stated in an IBAC and GAMA jointly issued statement back in November 2009 and still remains pertinent today; “The successful achievement of carbon neutral growth by 2020 will be challenging, since there will not be a significant and immediate impact delivered by improvements in technology, infrastructure and operations, and alternative fuels. During the interim period, business aviation operators are committed to offsetting their emissions through market-based economic measures.”
The working group took an active part at the recent ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) meeting and progress has been made. An announcement by ICAO said that, ‘important progress [had been made], delivering agreement on the certification procedures supporting a new CO2 standard for aircraft. The new CO2 certification procedures represent another step towards a practical and comprehensive CO2 standard for aircraft.’ It’s a promising development and illustrates the value ICAO is placing on the business aviation voice.
The second day highlighted a concern for MEBAA members as raised by Mr Al Naqbi regarding Emergency Response Plans (ERPs). These plans are put in place as part of a safety management system that, in the event of an aircraft accident, incident or other occurrence of a serious nature, will be able to provide the correct procedures to follow, responsibilities, instructions and guidance for personnel in the absence of a safety officer.
According to IS-BAO standards and recommended practices, “An operator shall have a plan detailing the procedures to be followed on the event of an accident, incident or other emergency. Compliance with this is mandatory”.
The region does suffer from an extreme lack of operators whom possess a recognised ERP; however this isn’t a problem unique to the Middle East. In 2009, European Business Aviation Association conducted a survey of their market, and found that about one-third of all operators do not possess an ERP and most have not provided ERP training. The EBAA set about changing this by introducing their ERP Guidance Manual to assist European operators in the development of their ERPs. As communicated to the POC, I made it clear that this matter is of huge concern to MEBAA members as, currently, there is no IBAC endorsed training or guidance manual available to Middle Eastern Operators.
To address this issue, it was agreed that MEBAA would partner with Kenyon, and International Emergency Services company to draft a guidance manual for Middle Eastern operators. The manual will also be complimented by workshops in conjunction with Kenyon to further enhance the offering from MEBAA to its members. Discussions are currently on going between MEBAA and Kenyon with an aim to roll out workshops towards the middle of 2013.
The last day of the POC meeting was dedicated to discussing illegal chartering or Grey Market. This is a problem faced by all members of IBAC and especially here in the Middle East. The committee opened discussions with the acknowledgement that the issue of illegal charters is widely acknowledged to be a problem. It is further complicated by the lack of an agreed definition; fully accurate, credible data; and resources of regulatory authorities to enforce existing or no-existing rules.
IBAC’s current definition of illegal chartering, as defined in IBAC Policy Statement (30-14) states that the “operation of an aircraft for remuneration without the operator having authority to conduct a commercial flight in accordance with provisions of a current Air Operators Certificate issued by a relevant authority.”
Whether an aircraft is operated under and in accordance with an AOC is a key factor in defining an illegal charter. However, it is not the only factor which is where the grey area lies. There are currently many factors that can determine whether a flight is operating legally or illegally. It was agreed by the POC that a clearer, simpler and concise definition further supported with examples in order better to inform the public, industry and regulations would be drafted and adopted, once approved, by all member associations. These sentiments were also echoed at the recent Middle East Business Aviation Conference where delegates cited the lack of a single definition as a problem and needed to be “black or white” according to Aoife O’Sullivan from Gates and Partners.
What is clear is that the actions from the 28th Planning and Operations Committee meeting will go a long way in addressing the issues that affect our region. MEBAA will to continue to act as the principle forum for gathering, understanding and communicating the needs of the business aviation community within the Middle East and North Africa to businesses, government and worldwide authorities.