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10 Questions For Brian Humphries

On the eve of the Tenth Annual European Business Aviation Association Convention (EBACE)- Brian Humphries- President and CEO of EBAA took the time to speak with World Aircraft Sales Magazine and offer an exclusive insight into his organization and the outstanding issues facing the European business aviation community.

WAS: The EBAA has just published its annual review with an overview entitled ‘Ten Years of Success’- detailing the Association’s achievements over the last ten years. Can you say what you regard as the greatest achievement during this period?

Humphries: I would say recognition by the authorities on the importance and value of business aviation in Europe ranks as the greatest achievement.

In 2008 after many years of EBAA lobbying- the European Commission published a communication entitled ‘An agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation’. Before this- the EU didn’t recognize the importance of the business aviation industry and our importance as a supplementary carrier within its aviation infrastructure. It’s very important and probably our best achievement to date.

WAS: Can you say what the greatest disappointment is to date?

Humphries: The European Union–Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) is definitely up there! This is the classic bad-regulation- and in a way we failed because we did all our work with the Commission and DG Environment whereas we should probably have concentrated more on lobbying the Parliament.

We never thought that with a ten thousand ton [emissions] threshold that the Parliament would apply that only to commercial and not to non-commercial aircraft. That was a terrible mistake as they then invented an unworkable system.

In the UK we’ve got 900 operators to monitor- 38% haven’t registered yet and they represent much less than 1% of emissions- so you’ve got a bureaucratic system that is monitoring huge numbers of people that contribute virtually nothing. And it’s not that we don’t want to pay our way because- actually- a lot of people are already doing voluntary offsets- and we volunteered that.

We’re not getting any sympathy from management in the Commission who agree it’s the wrong approach but are not going to change the legislation until it’s proved unworkable. So we’re probably not going to get a change in the rules until after 2013.

WAS: With the London Metropolitan University offering an FBO diploma course from this summer and a Swiss-based company possibly offering a similar course from next year- what is EBAA doing in this important area to standardize FBO training?

Humphries: We’re not so much looking at individual diplomas but more a development of IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aviation Operations) which is the industry code of best practice. There are two workshops going on at EBACE – one for auditors and one for those seeking to implement IS-BAO or the SMS. We’ve got almost 300 operators IS-BAO registered- and IS-BAO is going to be accepted by EASA as a wholly acceptable means of compliance for non-commercial operators.

It’s a quality safety management system covering the whole of a company. So if you’re IS-BAO registered it is the only oversight you’re going to need. Once IS-BAO has audited a company it is recognized as a qualified supplier. At the moment we do have EBAA approved handlers- a self certified procedure.

It is on the agenda for our working group to see whether it might be possible to develop a version of IS-BAO for FBOs so they would then be audited against an industry standard and registered. That - for us - would probably be more useful than having individuals getting diplomas. I know there’s been a lot of talk about this. I think the ‘diploma’ is a good initiative- and we’ll watch developments as it could be complimentary to what we’re doing.

WAS: According to ‘Ten Years of Success’- EBAA membership has increased. Can you say by how much- and whether you’ve lost many members because of the downturn?

Humphries: We peaked at 420 members and came down to 396- but actually the income has gone up because we’ve got more member operators. In fact we’ve had around 10 to 15 applications in the last few weeks - some of which are generated by EBACE as exhibitors have to become members to exhibit.

We have only put up our subscriptions once since 1994 as we’d rather keep subscription the same. We’d rather money comes in from more members and the income generated from EBACE. We’ve only lost one EBAA member due to a company failure during the recession.

WAS: What is the latest news for U.S. business aircraft operators under the EU-ETS? Will they have to join the European carbon offset program even if only a few of their flights are into Europe?

Humphries: If they are a non-commercial operator and make one flight to Europe- they have to be in the EU-ETS. If they are a commercial operator- they have to register if they produce 10-000 tons of emissions- or 243 flights in four months.

Ten thousand tons is quite a lot; if you take a typical long-range business jet such as a Falcon 2000EX EASy or Hawker 900XP- both emit around three tons per hour- whereas a Gulfstream G550 emits around four tons per hour.

Let’s say the aircraft is emitting three tons per hour- and flies 400 hours per year: that equates to 1-200 tons per year- whereas a G550 flying the same hours would notch up 1-600 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The Shell Oil Company is a typically good example; it used to make four flights a year to Europe with a Falcon 2000 which would be just above 100 tons of emissions per year. So under the new rules it would have to join EU-ETS; pay a registration fee; do all the calculations; possibly pay an official verifier; and then buy 100 tons at €30 per ton. It’s an absolute joke!

The list of emitters is badly wrong as it includes lots of companies like Air Routing- Arinc and Universal [who don’t operate aircraft] as the authorities can’t actually work out who some of the operators are. The first of January 2010 was the date that you were supposed to submit your emissions monitoring plan. Most people have said they will use the EU-ETS Support Facility which Eurocontrol is developing- if it is offered. If it gets the go ahead it could be the answer we’re looking for. It will simply give you a print-out from Eurocontrol’s CFMU [Central Flow Management Unit] which will show the total of emitted tons-per-fleet for a specified period; it will be verified data that is sent to you- and directly to your competent authority.

That is the dream! The EU-ETS Support Facility would be so helpful- it’ll simply say- ‘you’ve done 500 tons’- so operators will then just buy those emissions allowances. If this support facility is not available it’s going to get quite interesting - and to be honest I think our view is going to be if it’s not available then we’ll take the position that ‘we can’t do it’- and see what happens…

EU-ETS is a ridiculous law. Our sector is totally committed to minimizing our impact on the environment and we recognise the role of market-based measures to deliver this- at least in the short term. Moreover- Europe and all the member States are committed to making life easier for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Virtually all our members fall into this category. Yet the sheer bureaucracy of EU-ETS for business aviation goes against every European policy you can think of- and if they don’t give us the tools then we just can’t do it. The decision is awaited on the 6th May update at EBACE.

WAS: The Implementation of EU-ETS seems to be one area in which EBAA has had least affect in improving the proposed legislation. The EBAA ‘Ten Years of Success’ even says- ‘EU-ETS as it stands is a mess’.

Given that operators are already spending a lot of money in validating their emissions- is there still a last chance that this legislation can be improved/changed to the benefit of business aviation operators?

Humphries: We work very closely with Andrew Watt of Eurocontrol and that is why his EBACE presentation will be so important. They are keen to develop the EU-ETS support system both for business aviation and Member States and this system has been favored by the EBAA from the outset as a sensible and efficient approach to managing CO2 emissions.

‘Pagoda’ itself is just a tool that has no value on its own- as all it does is calculate your CO2 emissions. It doesn’t validate anything- it doesn’t verify anything - it just calculates it.

The other thing we are fighting for is that we want allowances to be readily purchased in small quantities: it’s no good me going to a stockbroker and saying I want one share in a company - we need to have a small auction house where people can go and buy small amounts- perhaps with credit cards- or whatever.

It’s a four pronged attack really: First: Please do develop the EU-ETS Support Facility (and I think most member states want it anyway). Second- please make sure that there is a small auction house. Third- let’s please (in the fullness of time) raise the threshold minimum for everybody to ten thousand tons. Fourth- make sure that the EU-ETS support facility is accepted and independently verified so we don’t all have to go out and pay for more specialist consultants.

We did a quick trial run with Flying Group which reckoned it was costing 80-000 Euros just to get the data together and verified under the currently proposed EU-ETS.

WAS: What is the EBAA’s latest update regarding EASA rulemaking?

Humphries: I think it’s a bit of a mess but EASA is obviously working to incredibly tight time-scales- and at least realizes that there will be a need for transition measures. New laws will come in April 2012- but to be honest- whether they’re going to be new EASA Rules or transition measures carried on from EU-OPS we don’t know. We have a good relationship with EASA and haven’t taken up the confrontational style that the airlines have. We’re co-operating.

One of the most exciting developments is the work we’ve been doing on Flight and Duty Time Limitations; one of our best-ever working groups has developed a set of Flight and Duty Time Limitations tailored to business aviation and taking the best practice from each of the 27 member States. We’ve been sharing this with EASA all the way- and EASA seems to like it because we have totally different requirements from commercial airline operations. With the airlines- their biggest problem is fatigue because they’re flying 900 hours a year- etc. Our problem is tiredness because business aviation pilots are on standby so much- so the rules we’re developing particularly reflect standby- split duty- in-flight rest and down-route rest.

We’ve come up with a set of rules which are not yet finalized but we believe we are getting there. EASA says that it wants a scientific paper to back-up our proposals so the EBAA has contracted Dr. Mark Rosekind of Tiredness Solutions (a leading authority on fatigue)- to undertake the study of European business aviation pilots.

So far 550 pilots have completed the questionnaire- the results will be analyzed and the scientific report presented to EASA. The most exciting thing is that EASA’s Jean-Marc Cluzeau Head of Flight Standards Department has taken this on board- and has said business aviation is likely to need a completely new set of rules which is wonderful news for us all.”

WAS: Airport Security for business aircraft movements seems to have been another EBAA major success- would you agree?

Humphries: Yes. It’s been four years of hard work and we’re not there yet as we now the risk of 27 different sets of rules from 27 States within the EU. We’ve produced an acceptable means of compliance; Standards for Small Aircraft - but because it’s a security matter I can’t talk about them in detail. We’ve submitted it to EASA- and the BBGA (British Business and General Aviation Association) is submitting to the UK Government’s TRANSEC Compliance Framework. We think that TRANSEC is close to recognizing that there might be a case here. We’ve got to convince them that our known bookers of business aircraft (and known passengers) protocols are robust.

Everyone has been involved; brokers- users- operators and FBOs. The critical thing is to have a low-frequency screening protocol where anyone at the appropriate level can be trained to do screening. You don’t have to have dedicated screeners. We can buy the screening equipment- but we can’t pay people specifically to screen 12-18 hours per day- seven-days-a-week dedicated to handling maybe three flights per day. We can properly cross-train dispatchers or engineers- to conduct the screening at a low frequency- at least as well as dedicated screeners.

WAS: Is potential SESAR legislation still a problem area?

Humphries: We’re excited about the Single European Sky; with it we can have all-weather operations to any airfield- we could have CAT II to any airfield with aircraft fitted with enhanced vision systems. Curved approaches would be possible- business aircraft flying a five degree glide slope while conventional airliners flying three degrees to the same airport would give far greater ATC efficiency and fuel savings for operators.

The benefits are enormous. The concerns are not so much the legislation- but what the equipment requirements will be. It mustn’t be tailored just to the airlines- they’ve got to recognize business and general aviation. So we’re delighted to be fully paid-up members of the consortium- and getting paid for what we do within the SESAR Joint Unit (responsible for managing the development stage).

We are a little worried at the moment about the politics that goes on- and hope that engineering and operational factors will prevail over politics.

WAS: Finally- will EBACE 2010 be as big as the 2009 event?

Humphries: By early April- 400 exhibitors had registered to fill Halls Six and Seven at Geneva Palexpo - roughly comparable to 2009. Income to date is almost exactly the same as last year’s and bookings are within 3%. Housing is up 13%. We’re quite encouraged. Additionally- the EBACE 2010 static display of aircraft includes 60 aircraft- or about 98% of available capacity. Furthermore- a full slate of education sessions and other programming is planned to provide attendees with the latest updates on the many tough issues facing the European business aviation community.

It’s going to be a lively show- and we’ve probably got the best line-up of politicians and industry specialists that we’ve ever had.

The opening session will be led by Richard Aboulafia the VP of the Teal Group speaking on the ‘Economic Crisis - Where are we and where are we going’. David Marsh from Eurocontrol will give us his latest figures. The new head of Eurocontrol’s DG Environment Andrew Watt will head up the environment/emissions discussion- while Paul Bogers- aviation technology manager at Shell- will update on bio fuels. These are just a few of the leading lights on show.

More information from
www.ebaa.org or www.ebace.aero


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