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The History of GASCo

The General Aviation Safety Committee was formed as a result of a meeting of the Conference of General Aviation Organisations held on 4th September 1964, under the Chairmanship of the late Air Chief Marshal, the Earl of Bandon GBE, CB, CVO, DSO. The Committee was accepted for registration by the Charity Commission in 1965 and, upon adoption of a revised Constitution in March 1994, became the General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo). More recently GASCo has been restructured as a non-profit making Charitable Limited Company. It has no legislative powers and, therefore, has to rely on persuasion and education in meeting its objectives.

The Council's definition of "general aviation" includes all UK civil flying other than operations by scheduled airlines and test, development and experimental flying. In other words, it consists of all private and business aviation, including executive or corporate operations, flying and gliding club and group activity, and commercial operations by small aircraft such as air taxi, agricultural work and flying training. There are approximately 14,000 powered aircraft of various kinds in UK general aviation, including microlight aircraft and helicopters, 1,600 balloons, over 2,000 sailplanes and approximately 4,500 hang-gliders. In addition there are 4,500 regular parachutists.

Originally, GASCo consisted of representatives from only six general aviation organisations but its membership now includes almost all of the many organisations that represent not only the pilots who fly GA aircraft but also the many others such as the engineers who are responsible for safety in general aviation. Click on the Council Members link above for a full list of member organisations that cover ballooning, gliding, hang gliding, home built aircraft, historic aircraft, microlighting, parachuting, paragliding, helicopter flying, large model flying and of course general aviation aeroplanes.

Although the GASCo Constitution was revised in March 1994 in order to meet the requirements of the Charity Commission the Terms of Reference laid down by the Conference of General Aviation Organisations for the GASCo remain as valid today as in 1964 and are as follows:-

  • To collect, collate and disseminate flight safety information among users of UK registered general aviation aircraft.
  • To study all matters affecting, or which might affect, flight safety in UK general aviation and to make recommendations to interested parties, as necessary.
In furtherance of these terms, GASCo publishes a quarterly magazine called 'Flight Safety' which is available for a small annual financial contribution to the Council's funds. It contains articles and information on flight safety matters and analyses of the causes of flying accidents and incidents which are published in the expectation that they will help pilots and operators to avoid the misfortunes of others.

The Council meets three times a year, traditionally the subject of discussion has been recent accidents and incidents in order to try to decide on the action to be taken to reduce the possibility of a recurrence. The effect of proposed legislation, airspace changes and the like are also discussed. The philosophy underlying all these activities is that a real and lasting improvement in general aviation flight safety can only be brought about through education and understanding, i.e. "Safety Through Knowledge".

The Council's finances are from contributions by member organisations represented on the Council and from subscriptions and donations made by readers of Flight Safety. As the Council is a registered charity, it also benefits from Gift Aid forms signed by those making contributions out of taxed income.

The Council seeks to ensure that the needs of general aviation in respect of safety are fully considered in relation to the other aspects of the aviation community. The Council is represented at regular meetings of the General Aviation Strategic Forum (GASF), the General Aviation Safety Partnership (GASP), the General Aviation Consultative Committee (GACC), the Airspace & Safety Initiative Communication & Education Programme (ACEP), the National Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (NATMAC), the airlines' UK Flight Safety Committee (UKFSC), the Small Helicopter Safety Group (SHSG) and it is also a core member of the European General Aviation Safety Team (EGAST) which is part of the EASA Strategic Safety Initiative.

The Council is able to represent the many diverse factions within general aviation when the Authorities consult on new legislation. The Council meets three times a year and a separate Board oversees the administration of the financial income derived from member organisations contributions and from charitable donations. In addition to its quarterly publication, Flight Safety, safety seminars are organised and at major general aviation events competitions are run. GASCo has one employee, a part-time Office Manager who is assisted by a part-time, self-employed administrator based at Rochester Airport in Kent. In addition, it contracts with a part-time Editor for the production of Flight Safety magazine and an aviation consultant who performs the duties of Chief Executive and Company Secretary.

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