The Light Aircraft Association and the British Microlight Aircraft Association are actively pursuing a merger. If it happens, probably in 2020, the resulting association would be the biggest group in light aviation with more than 11,000 members.
The two associations have formed a working group to examine the potential benefits are in the process of consulting with members. The LAA is sending a document to members in readiness for a vote at its AGM on 20 October.
Steve Slater, CEO of the LAA, said, “The opportunity for a merger between the two Associations, which would make us the largest single sport flying body in the UK, is an exciting one.
“Both organisations bring different assets to the party. The BMAA have great outreach and flying training capabilities, while the LAA recruits existing pilots, has unmatched engineering credentials and a more diverse flying fleet.
“Ultimately though, the decision whether or not to merger will be that of the members. What they say, goes!”
Geoff Weighell, CEO of the BMAA, said, “The BMAA and LAA have formed a working group to discuss close working and the possibility of a merger. BMAA members have asked for details of how a new association might operate and how it might be different.
“We feel that it is important to be able to answer these questions before asking our members to approve a merger, and we are now working towards being able to supply the answers.”
The talks initially came about because of the possibility of ‘opting out’ of EASA regs for 600kg aircraft, applicable to both associations, and have progressed quickly.
At the LAA Rally at the beginning of September, a briefing was held for both LAA and BMAA members, with an Q&A session following. Tim Hardy, chairman of the LAA, and Rob Hughes, chairman of the BMAA, jointly presented the briefing.
A video of the briefing is here:
Among the benefits identified for a merger are:
- Membership – The latest figures show that the LAA has 7,800 members and the BMAA has 4,000 members. There are around 700 members who have joined both associations. This means that the joint membership will total over 11,000.
- Size – An association of this size will be a significant stakeholder in all aviation matters nationally and will be able to broaden the scope of what can be offered to members, improve response to member technical enquiries and provide a broader base to support necessary expenditure.
- Staff – There is no plan to reduce staff – indeed with all of the challenges going forward, they would need each and every one of them. The typical number of employees of a new, merged, organisation would be 22.
- Influence – The combined association will be able to review vendor arrangements and utilise size to produce best value for money.
- Governance – The working group, comprising equal numbers of members from both the LAA and BMAA were unanimous in their view that the board of any future combined organisation should also have equal numbers for a period of at least two years following merger.
- Finance – Both the LAA and the BMAA are financially sound organisations so therefore a joint association with a combined balance sheet will become far more resilient than two individual organisations
- Membership Fees – The board of the combined organisation would begin a process of harmonisation of fees to members, defaulting to the lowest comparable rates as and when financially practicable.
- Engineering – The combined organisation will be able to develop and sustain the breadth and level of engineering excellence that members expect.
- Insurances – there would be opportunities to combine coverage in areas such as employee and and member liabilities, both reducing premiums and potentially adding further cover as benefits to members.