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Agenda for General and Business Aviation

16 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 24 September 2009

The increase in air traffic in Europe requires consideration to be taken of General and Business aviation in the European Union's transport initiatives. The key objectives are to improve data collection, ensure proportionality of rules and regulations, incorporate this sector correctly into the Commission's initiatives and improve the use of existing capacities and access to global markets whilst ensuring environmental sustainability.


The European Commission has studied the General and Business aviation sector and proposes to incorporate it within the European Union's air transport policy so as to ensure proportionality of rules and regulations and to optimise existing, though limited, infrastructures and resources.

The scope of this Communication covers:

  • all civil aircraft operations other than commercial air transport;
  • on-demand, remunerated, civil air transport operations (aerial works, aerial training, recreational flying, on-demand air taxis, etc.).

Benefits for the EU of General and Business aviation

General and Business aviation is a fast-growing sector with a diverse fleet. In fact, it represents around 50,000 motor-powered aircraft in Europe. A further 180,000 to 200,000 microlight and non motor-powered aircraft are used for sport and recreation. In 2006, almost 10% of aircraft movements registered by Eurocontrol were attributable to this sector. This should continue to develop as a result of factors including:

  • Need for more mobility, flexibility and point-to-point services;
  • Increasing congestion at the main airports;
  • Security constraints:
  • Continuous efforts of enterprises and individuals to increase productivity gains;
  • Development of new technologies which make aircraft more efficient and less costly.

General and Business aviation contributes to aeronautical research and development and constitutes a source of qualified staff for the wider aviation industry. It also has a specific economic and social use, offering private individuals, companies and local communities suitable, flexible and high quality transport services. These services increase people's mobility, business productivity and regional cohesion.

Agenda for General and Business aviation

The European Commission has identified seven priorities for a sustainable future in General and Business aviation, namely:

  • To improve statistics on General and Business aviation, as policy makers need to have an up-to-date knowledge of the situation to enable them to properly regulate this sector;
  • To clarify definitions in order to avoid different interpretations of legal definitions, by both operators and regulators. Such divergence has a negative impact on the operation of the internal market and prevents standard application of Community law. More particularly, the Communication from the Commission clarifies the notions of "State/Civil aircraft" and "commercial air transport operation";
  • To ensure proportionate regulation and to monitor the subsidiarity of regulation given the highly variable situations in this sector.
  • To permit better use of existing capacity (airports and aerodromes as well as air space) in order to increase capacities in proportion to the general increase in traffic. If capacities are not increased, General and Business aviation risks entering into competition with airlines for access to air space and infrastructures. The Commission proposes better planning to make best use of existing infrastructures, new technological development (automated air traffic systems, satellite navigation systems, etc.) and creation of an EU Observatory. The Commission is also implementing a series of reforms within the framework of the Single European Sky and the SESAR project;
  • To facilitate access to global markets in order to increase European presence on these markets. The aeronautics construction sector for General and Business aviation is a healthy sector and new technologies have been used to provide the EU with a competitive advantage. The Commission wants to encourage a greater European presence on global markets. The Commission also supports the particular interests of commercial business aviation and undertakes to consider these when developing the EC external air transport policy and when negotiating Community air service agreements;
  • To ensure environmental sustainability, since this sector, as with most other forms of transport, produces noise and gaseous emissions which have a negative impact on the environment. With the assistance of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Commission is studying the need to change "essential requirements" in the area of environmental standards which apply to aviation. Review of certification standards and improved pilot education could further contribute to reduction of negative impacts. Regarding the emission of greenhouse gases, the Commission proposes to extend the EU Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme to aviation including General and Business aviation. It is also examining the options that exist regarding more environmentally-friendly fuels;
  • To encourage research and development, as research in this sector benefits from a very dynamic environment. The competitive and commercial success of General and Business aviation in the EU depends heavily on innovation and research implemented in aeronautics. Consequently, the Commission will be depending on its framework research programme in order to encourage initiatives in this direction.


As a result of initiatives such as extending EU competences in the areas of safety and security, updating the Single European Sky and implementing new air traffic management systems in Europe, and of the anticipated shortage of capacities and concerns regarding the environmental impact of aviation, consideration of General and Business aviation is becoming an urgent matter. Consequently, the Commission is looking into the specific nature of this sector and proposing an agenda for a sustainable future for General and Business aviation.

Source: Summaries of EU Legislation

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