GA News

Two more UK International airports, Belfast International and Leeds/Bradford International have just joined the AOPA "Strasser Scheme". This is timely news as General Aviation celebrates the 16th Anniversary of the AOPA "Strasser Scheme". Only 5 airports remain, Bournemouth, Cardiff, London Luton, Lydd and Manchester, who refuse to join this potentially life saving CAA recommended scheme.

In 1997 the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published a review of General Aviation Fatal accidents 1985 to 1994 under the title CAP 667. Of particular interest to GA pilot Charles Strasser when reading this, was paragraph 9.2(c), which stated: "There were a number of fatal accidents where a timely diversion or precautionary landing could have avoided an accident. In the UK there is a 'culture' of pressing on and hoping for the best rather accepting the inconvenience and cost of a diversion. This 'culture' needs to be changed, firstly by educating pilots and secondly by persuading Aerodrome owners that there should be no charge for emergency landings or diversions. It is recommended that all Aerodrome owners be persuaded to adopt a policy that there should be no charges for emergency landings or diversions by general aviation aircraft."
Since neither the CAA nor the GASCO (General Aviation Safety Council) acted to get this important potential life saving recommendation implemented, Charles Strasser, the then Chairman of the AOPA CI Region, decided in 1998 to accept this challenge. It has taken him 16 years to get all present 206 UK Civil and Military airfields, excepting only Bournemouth, Cardiff, London-Luton, Lydd and Manchester, to participate and waive fees for genuine emergency and precautionary weather diversions. (London Heathrow, Gatwick and City were not asked). 
The "Strasser Scheme" has undoubtedly prevented GA pilots from "pressing on" and instead make the right decision to land at the nearest airfield. See "Strasser Scheme" in Wikipedia for full details. 
There are some misunderstandings and to preserve the integrity of the scheme, anniversary is a perfect opportunity to remind GA pilots of the importance this 16th anniversary not to abuse the concession granted by airport owners in the interests of safety. The CAA recommendation starts off "This 'culture' needs to be changed, firstly by educating pilots…... This means that pre-flight planning, including route, destination and alternate weather information must be undertaken. Landings at predetermined alternates, whether filed or not, are clearly not "precautionary diversion landings". Landings to drop off passengers or pick up fuel, similarly do not qualify.

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