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EU approves single-engine turboprops for commercial use

The European Commission has published an amendment to its air operations regulation to allow the use of single-engine turboprop aircraft for commercial air transport (CAT) purposes in Europe. The long-awaited regulation change, drafted by the European Air Safety Agency (EASA), takes effect on March 21 and sets a framework for operations in 32 European countries. Read the revised regulations here.

Any businesses looking to take advantage will need to obtain individual state approval from their home country, and also show that specific minimum operational, training, maintenance and equipment standards are met. There are also equipment requirements for the single-engine turboprops involved.

Previously, such small aircraft could not be used commercially due to safety concerns, particularly when flying at night or in bad weather. But thanks to an impressive track record in the USA, where they have long been involved in commercial use, and with technological advances, there have been calls for the rules to be amended.

The use of these aircraft could reduce an operator’s fuel bills by 20-30%, compared to models with two engines, and also allow the opening of new routes to airfields in locations only accessible by smaller airplanes, which will also benefit from reduced landing charges. With the UK’s impending divorce from the EU, and the possible relocation of some companies to mainland Europe, business aviation between the two is expected to increase, opening opportunities made affordable thanks to the new ruling.

Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers’ Association (GAMA), said in a statement, “The EU’s acceptance of CAT operations has been a long-awaited moment for general aviation. We are very pleased to see Europe joining other regions in permitting this important form of transport.

“We applaud the leadership shown by EASA in guiding this important safety framework forward, along with many dedicated individuals who helped forge this rule over many years. It will be a welcome development for those underserved by commercial routes to date.”

March 9, 2017

Written by Chris Anderson


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