Byron Davies with Baroness Sugg at Elstree Aerodrome, where the general aviation champion announcement was made on February 7, 2018
Please give a brief overview of your aviation background.
I was the founding chair of the General Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group while an MP. I gained my private pilot licence 36 years ago and have flown extensively throughout eastern, central and southern Europe. I currently operate a Cessna 310R.
Why have you taken on the role of general aviation champion?
There is increasing concern within the general aviation (GA) community that its voice is not being heard, particularly with airfield planning issues and airspace availability. Consequently, I founded the General Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group on general aviation to address these concerns. Upon leaving parliament in June 2017, the opportunity arose to further the interests of GA by becoming the general aviation champion. I see this as an opportunity to represent grass root concerns at the very highest level, working closely with representative groups to inform Government.
Why do you think the industry needs a champion?
General aviation has played an important part in the valuable aviation economic ecosystem. Many of today’s pilots, aircrew and engineers first came into contact and were inspired by the sector through general aviation leisure activities. At the other end of the GA spectrum, the business aviation sector ensures high value individuals are able to access the destinations they need to quickly and efficiently. Therefore, to engage with stakeholders to review the current position of GA airfields in the UK, both licensed and unlicensed, in addition to directing research, a GA Champion was appointed by Ministers.
How will you address the negative stereotypes associated with general aviation (excessive wealth, for example)?
The GA sector benefits the UK economy in multiple ways. The sector provides direct economic benefits through generating employment and training at regional airports and business links. It also has indirect benefits such as those that are likely to result in aircraft manufacture. There is certainly a need to engage at all levels and dispel the negative stereotypes. This can best be done through recognizing the positives, such as employment opportunities in the sector, particularly with promoting STEM subjects for younger people.
What will the role entail and what are you particularly looking forward to?
As GA champion, I will have two main roles. Firstly, to help Government develop an understanding of a range of key issues, such as aerodromes and facilities coming increasingly under pressure from housing development and other commercial uses, and the benefits of the UK’s aviation sector. Secondly, I will engage with stakeholders to ensure that understanding is grounded in the knowledge and experience of the sector. I will steer research with the aim of providing evidence to underpin the identification and protection of a strategic network of airfields critical to the long-term delivery of the sector’s economic benefits.
What targets have you set and when will these be achieved?
I have been tasked with providing an interim report in March and a final report at the end of the year using stakeholder engagement and research.
How can the GA industry get involved in the initiative?
The GA community is actively being encouraged to engage with the initiative and attend research workshops, a series of which are currently being organized. I think it is imperative that all sections of the GA community are represented in the research.
Read more about the GA champion here.
Byron Davies was elected leader of the Welsh Conservative Party in September 2017, previously serving as a member of National Assembly for Wales from 2011 to 2015.
Byron was elected Member of Parliament for Gower at the 2015 general election. He served on the Home and Welsh Affairs Committees and the Armed Forces Bill Committee. Byron was the founding chair of the General Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group while an MP. Byron also served in the Metropolitan Police, where he was seconded for a number of years on the UK National Crime Squad.
He is the author of European Union Commission progress reports for several countries in the Balkan region.
February 13, 2018