SuomiAreena – Harraste- ja yleisilmailun mahdollisuudet ja tulevaisuus-keskustelutilaisuus

AOPA Finland  organised the aviation discussion forum at SuomiAreena event together with production company Mediahub Helsinki and the City of Pori.  SuomiAreena is held simultaneously with the oldest jazz festival in Europe, Pori Jazz; hence the visitors can enjoy lively discussion during the day and musical highlights in the evening. This summer 73 000 visitors took part in about 200 events.

Organizers of SuomiAreena events consist of ministries, governmental and municipal organizations, NGO’s, labour market organizations, political parties, companies, etc. The discussion topics are related with politics, society, culture and sports.

In the middle of Pori City, Finland, on the stage of Eetu’s Square of East Park, this lively 1 hour discussion about aviation was held on Tuesday, 16th of July 2019 between 17:30 – 18:30  o’clock. Aviation enthusiasts as well as other interested parties crowded the audience despite of occasional showers of rain. Participants of panel were carefully selected to cover as wide range of aviation as possible, from grass root aviators to requlatory sector, from aviation training to aircraft manufacturing industry to all the way to trusteeship of AOPA Finland. Participants were:

Main themes in discussion were following topics;
1. Importance of non-controlled airfields for General Aviation?
2. Opportunities of unmanned and electric aviation?
3. Future of aviation training in Finland?

Airport and airfield network of Finland consists of over 60 aerodromes and 25 helipads being within 45 minutes travel time for 99% of population of Finland. The most endangered situation is in the vicinity of capitol of Finland since City of Helsinki has started planning a housing development project of 25 000 habitats for the area of Helsinki-Malmi airport, EFHF. This issue was the most commented both by the panelists and audience, all against the housing project. As a conclusion, the situation at Helsinki area is catastrophic.  Ministry of Transport and Communications has started the preparations for Finland’s first national transport system plan. The plan will provide the basis for Finland’s transport network and services. Unfortunately it is unclear how GA is taken into account in this national transport system plan but AOPA Finland will join this preparations by giving GA’s insight how to develop GA sector in Finland as a part of transport system. Currently there is open bid of the grant of 1M €  that is tailored for the maintenance and development of regional controlled airports, which contribute regional connectivity and accessibility. The focus of the evaluation of applications is on the promotion of and support for passenger and scheduled transport, neither GA nor to provide funding for the planning of substitue of EFHF . Existing scheduled traffic is preferred and considered an advantage to the applicant. The assessment of applications will take into account the financial and operational prospects for the activities to be undertaken in the near future as well as plans for the development of the activities.

Infrastructure of non-controlled aerodromes has been without guardian since the good old aviation authority agency was divided into current CAA/NAA and Finavia Oyj. Non-controlled aerodromes were left at the mercy of cities and communities lacking funds or will to maintain operational functionality even develop infrastructure. However, with regard to environmental permits, Vaasa Administrative Court has largely dismissed the complaints about the Pyhtää, EFPR, aerodrome’s environmental permit. This was published by the representative of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. They had demanded that the permit decision be revoked as far as aviation is concerned. According to Traficom, the Environmental Board overstepped its jurisdiction over a matter under the control of Traficom and the Government, which was thus confirmed by the Vaasa Administrative Court.

Closing of Malmi airport is a serious threat to the whole Finnish General Aviation. That aerodrome is the only non-scheduled aerodrome within 100 km range to capital of Finland, Helsinki, from other regions of Finland. Malmi airport is very important gateway to Helsinki city area from other parts of Finland. In addition, Baltic Sea Maritime Incident Response Group is stationed at Malmi emergency center in Malmi airport having overwhelmingly shortest response time for any incident at Baltic sea. Moreover, Malmi airport would be excellent location for Finnish Aviation Museum currently located in the vicinity of Helsinki-Vantaa airport but under the threat of expansion plans of EFHK. Malmi airport is still the busiest non-controlled aerodrome in Finland thanks to multiple training organisations and aviation service organisations for domestic and foreign operators. “It’s a national disgrace if Helsinki-Malmi aerodrome will be closed due to housing project.” was the mutual conclusion from audience at the end of this topic.

From point of unmanned aviation the most concerns were presented due to the inadequate air space management and aeronautical information service systems here in Finland. Lack of real-time, dynamic and flexible aeronautical information management system does not allow easy access to air space but pilots has to browse various distributed sources just to find partially outdated and/or insufficient information with a note:”Responsibility for the use of this data is with the pilot in command of the aircraft”.  Airspace violations are quite common here in Finland, especially among unmanned aviation. During SuomiAreena week, police authorities published information revealing eight drone pilots had been fined for airspace violations during EU ministerial meeting in Helsinki. Pori police authorities met on Thursday two drone pilots violating temporary restriction areas in Pori downtown.

The electric aircraft market currently consists of small aircraft but it’s one of the most far-reaching promises yet to cut down on aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Using all-electric planes will have benefits beyond emissions – the smaller aircraft will need smaller runways, which means they can use smaller airports. They will be quieter too, which means that they can be used earlier in the morning and later at night. And if the weight of batteries can be reduced the planes are likely to be lighter, meaning they will require less power. First electric aircraft has been purchased to Finland and hangared in Helsinki-Malmi airport. Small aircraft powered by electric motors are likely to be used at least in the initial stages of flight training due to limited battery capacity for cross-country flights.

In the case of flight training, the situation is twofold. Flying club training has been eased by the DTO regulation after the challenging ATO-period, but commercial  flying schools are in distress as Finavia, with its monopoly position, switched season cards to increased mission-based pricing regardless of aircraft weight. This so called professional season card was discontinued as of July 1, 2018 and mission based airport charges were taken into use for commercial flight training. It is our understanding that the 24 million EUR investment to support Patria’s future operations at Tampere Airport were questioned as soon as Finavia raised their airport fees. This raise and switch to operation based airport fees generated to Patria an additional cost of approximately 700k€. To eliminate these additional costs, Patria transferred part of its flight training to Spain. In the hope of additional income from one state-owned company, another state-owned company was forced to relocate some of its operations abroad. The question is: who won what and what the Finnish state lost?

Mr. Jani Hottola of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency raised Finland’s first female flight examiner, who received her credentials on 1 July 2019. The male-dominated industry has made it the first woman to test pilots’ qualifications and test practical flying skills. Young people are needed to replace retiring pilots in the future. Aviation courses are available or have been available for students at least in Haukilahti, Loppi, Vääksy, Jyväskylä, Kauhava and Pudasjärvi high schools in Finland. The aim of aviation education is to provide students with a good general education and improve their postgraduate qualification for various aviation professions. Students receive credits toward a degree for ground courses and, in many cases, flight ratings. The studies promote the student’s chances of getting a postgraduate studies in aviation.

In conclusion, it was agreed that aviation should be promoted more in education sector as well as in other areas of life, without forgetting the level of government budget support for non-controlled aerodromes. AOPA Finland works as a lobbyist for all aviators and a national interest organization for General Aviation.

Pics from SuomiAreena discussion forum;

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jussi Finnilä

Pic: Jari Lampinen

Kuva: Jussi Finnilä

AOPA Finland’s secretary Esa Harju ja pilot member Jukka Peurala were also interviewed by Huomenta Suomi morning TV show of MTV Finland. You can watch the interview here.