UK Member of Parliament and general aviation pilot Grant Shapps, giving his keynote speech at EBACE 2019, called on the business aviation industry to justify its existence and clean up its act.
Self-confessed aviation enthusiast and Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on General Aviation, Shapps issued a “cautionary warning” to those in attendance, in light of the recent climate protests across the UK and worldwide.
“People are out there changing the agenda and, in particular, across all sectors of the economy, reminding people about the need to ensure that the future for our planet is one that’s pretty green,” said Shapps.
“When those global protestors look at the different areas of concern environmentally, it will not surprise anybody to know that they are very likely, very quickly, to round on aviation.
“After all, we are in a sector that is still primarily using fossil fuels, burning a lot of it and in the case of business aviation will be reviewed as being exclusive in our use of it.”
“We need to go back to winning the argument,” said Shapps. To do this, he said, “you have to show general aviation and business aviation is a net positive for the economy and for society. I believe that is a battle that we can win.”
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen echoed Shapps’ thoughts on the business aviation industry still being relevant and necessary, saying it has long been “pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation” and is now focused on doing so in a sustainable way.
Shapps’ comments came one day after Flor Diaz Pulido, head of Aviation Policy for the European Commission Department for Mobility and Transport, warned the industry could not sit on its past success.
“We need something disruptive to help the aviation industry decarbonize faster,” said Diaz Pulido, “and in those terms, SAJF can be a gamechanger.”
SAJF refers to sustainable alternative jet fuel, which saw its first ever fly-in to EBACE this year – 23 aircraft in all flew in to Geneva powered by the sustainable alternative.