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After taking over as the first full-time CEO of the European Business Aviation Association from October 1st, 2007, Eric Mandemaker now faces his first EBACE show as its head. World Aircraft Sales Magazine caught up with him during the lead-up to the event in Geneva. WAS: What’s new at EBACE this year? Mandemaker: EBACE is going to be big this year with 61 aircraft booked for display that span from ...

AvBuyer   |   8th January 2008
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An Interview with EBAA:
Eric Mandemaker, CEO EBAA Speaks with World Aircraft Sales Magazine.

After taking over as the first full-time CEO of the European Business Aviation Association from October 1st, 2007, Eric Mandemaker now faces his first EBACE show as its head. World Aircraft Sales Magazine caught up with him during the lead-up to the event in Geneva.

WAS: What’s new at EBACE this year?

Mandemaker: EBACE is going to be big this year with 61 aircraft booked for display that span from VLJs to Boeing and Airbus corporate jets. We have over 400 exhibitors signed up. Hall 7 will again be reserved for aircraft manufacturers. We have sold all the space in Hall 6 - as planned - and we are using more space in Hall 5. We expect to see as many as 14,000 visitors this year against 11,000 in 2007. I would like to stress the number of panel sessions that we will hold. The second one-day Bombardier European Safety Standdown is being held again this year, but this time it will start on the Monday before the exhibition rather than at the end of EBACE. Both in the U.S. and here, it is a must-attend-event for anyone concerned with best safety practices in business aviation.

On the same day, to assist those operators who are already implementing, or are considering implementing IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations), we are holding a session on the quality management system developed by IBAC for corporate aviation.

These two one-day events are essential to anyone involved in our industry. The next day we have a session on Business Aviation and the Environment. I think it’s important to explain what is happening in Europe now. Overall, we have a very diverse number of highly qualified speakers from the European Commission, EUROCONTROL and industry, plus our own experts and IBAC’s to discuss the Single European Sky, SESAR, and the ATM concept and airport access. In a Safety Update we will underline our concern over what appears to be an increase in runway incursions, gross navigation errors and level busts.

Security is another topic which will be debated by representatives from the Industry and the US Transport Security Administration. A session on Synthetic Vision systems will see Honeywell and Gulfstream discuss this trend. Yet another session will be held on the benefits of synthetic (simulator) training. It will involve representatives from EASA and Airbus Executive Aviation.

An entire session, the so-called EASA workshop, will be devoted to the agency, covering the new EASA Operational Rule Making process. This of course is of great importance to our members. Our job at EBAA is to make sure that the rules are practicable – no rules for the sake of having rules. We believe EBAA can make a useful contribution, and our views are anticipated by the regulators who welcome them.

WAS: Is the voice of EBAA heard by the European Legislators?

Mandemaker: Yes it is, because we speak with one voice representing all business aviation in Europe. We listen to our members, discuss the issues with them and try to get them involved.

Our small group of experts looks at the proposals and current issues in depth and we try to make rules work better. As I just said, no rules for the sake of having rules. At the same time we insist that we must have access to the regulatory process. But we look at the whole picture.

WAS: Do you fly, personally?

Mandemaker: I did fly business aircraft but not anymore. By profession I am an aeronautical engineer, but I’ve been a pilot for 10 years. I have been working on aircraft maintenance both at Fokker in the Netherlands and with another job in New Zealand. I have been involved with aircraft parts design and with marketing and product support.

For the last seven years before I joined EBAA I was part owner of a design engineering company which is still going strong. There we worked on the design of the Airbus A380 inner flap. Earlier, we also helped design the wiring harnesses for the prototype of the Dornier 728.

WAS: After six months in the job, have there been any surprises?

Mandemaker: No, having been in aviation 30 years, I knew pretty much what to expect. This is, however, a very interesting side of aviation. It is amazing how much work still needs to be done to have business aviation fully recognized as the business tool that it is.

WAS: Are VLJs coming to Europe in a big way?

Mandemaker: VLJs are an exciting development. Some VLJ operators have just joined EBAA. A member of our board of governors works for Blink (Charter company) in London. We are very happy to have VLJ operators on board - some of whom we have known for some time and some of whom are new to us. We are currently working with EUROCONTROL on a ‘VLJ Integration Platform’ to introduce them smoothly into the European skies.

WAS: Will VLJs have access to relatively high optimal cruise altitudes in Europe?

Mandemaker: We should never forget that we share the sky with other users. We need to work together toward a level playing field. After all, all of us fly for a living. Business aviation is the fastest growing aviation sector after low cost carriers. We currently have 3,000 turbine aircraft in the fleet. In the year 2000 this was 2,000. We represent today about 8% of all IFR European traffic. All aircraft manufacturers have a healthy order book which makes the growth curve look pretty solid for the foreseeable future.”

WAS: Tell us about the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Mandemaker: The current plan is to include all aircraft above 5,700 kg MTOW to be included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme or EU ETS. Because we believe the scheme was designed for scheduled carriers, we have proposed an alternative means of compliance for business aviation.

Let me be clear, we are not asking for an exemption - we emit carbon dioxide and we will act responsibly. Our main concern regards the complexity and the cost of administration of the scheme as it is proposed by the EU.

Our proposal actually goes a little further than the EU scheme as we would offset all of our carbon emissions in return for a simplified monitoring system based on EUROCONTROL emission data. We expect both aircraft operators and Member States verifiers to like its simplicity and transparency.

WAS: How will this alternative means of compliance work?

Mademaker: EBAA will set up an independent non-profit association which will monitor emissions and acquire carbon credits on behalf of the participating operators. By pooling resources, we will save operators a significant amount of work and quite a bit of money as well.

EBAA members are our first target group but we will open the scheme to others, hoping they will ‘see the light’ and join our association in the process.

WAS: What is the latest with slots and access to airports?

Mandemaker: This is a key issue for us. Looking back to earlier times, most business people flew on scheduled airlines and some would fly on corporate or chartered aircraft. Business aviation had fairly good access to all airports. You could almost say that we had a kind of grandfather right.

But under current slot regulations, to have guaranteed slots you must be scheduled. The growth of scheduled air services, particularly from low-cost carriers, means more slots are granted to scheduled airlines at the largest airports. As a consequence we are slowly being squeezed out of airports such as Geneva, Amsterdam Schiphol, Düsseldorf, Paris Charles de Gaulle and London City and Luton.

We have responded to this long-term trend by focusing on centrally-located but smaller airports like Farnborough and Paris Le Bourget which serve our industry quite well by providing much needed facilities.

To protect our rights, we must never allow the regulator to forget the significant impact on the economy, which derives from business aviation. We help spread economic prosperity to many regions by giving decision-makers convenient access to them.

WAS: So is it essentially a fight for airport access in Europe?

Mandemaker: It is rather a matter for negotiations. We have plenty of facts to back up our position and recently we got a big boost from the European Commission which acknowledged our role in the economy in a ‘Communication on an agenda for sustainable future in general and business aviation.’ So we are not alone.

WAS: What are EBAA’s thoughts on SESAR?

Mandemaker: As airspace users, we fully understand the benefits that the Single European Sky and the Single European Sky ATM Research Program (SESAR) will bring. The introduction of ADSB and global navigation systems will allow all-time access to a growing number of regional airports as they become IFR capable. This will not be without a positive impact on local economies. As access to air transport provided by both regional airlines and business aviation comes to many more parts of the European Union, investments will flow and create employment. For us, it means unfettered access to these regional airports and more efficient routes.

WAS: How much of a concern is security to you?

Mandemaker: The need for security is a fact of life. Airports of all sizes must have an appropriate response. Smaller airports can provide an adequate level of security by training existing staff to use the right screening equipment. Passengers on business aircraft are known to us. Security is mainly there to protect physical assets against the threat of intrusions. This is our message.

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