Airports always seem to be under an attack of some sort. Whether it is from land developers, various levels of governments, environmentalists, NS (noise sensitive) or the NIMBY (not in my back yard) folks, there is no shortage of adversary’s to aerodromes across Canada and around the world.
We have recently learned from AOPA Germany that a luxury car manufacturer is in favour of closing an airport so that it can use it as a test driving track. The company is BMW. The airfield, Fuerstenfeldbruck Airport is located in Germany.
According to AOPA Germay: The Fuerstenfeldbruck Airport had the full support of the Bavarian Federal States’ authorities and politicians until BMW appeared on the scene and claim the airport for itself. Maximilian Schöberl, BMW’s head of politics and communication, wrote to Peter Driessen, CEO of the Munich Chamber of Commerce, that BMW is ‘disappointed and annoyed’ over the Chamber’s continuing support for the Fuerstenfeldbruck Airport. He quotes BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer as having requested a neutral position from the Chamber.
It’s hard to under-estimate the political influence that BMW has in Munich. It’s difficult for anyone in authority to go against the company. The Bavarian Minister of Economics Martin Zeil has stated in writing that “plans for the airfield’s closure are insistently supported by BMW”.
AOPA has suggested to BMW that the airport with a 9,000 foot runway and two parallel taxiways covering the full runway is large enough to accommodate both a driving track and GA.
BMW´s Director responsible for driver training Dr. Kay Segler says that the focal point of the driver training programme is the runway, and GA use would make it impossible to drive on it, adding: “Any joint flying usage has been ruled out at the higher technical planning level.” AOPA Germany wants to preserve for GA only a section of the massive runway and the taxiways.
It seems odd that BMW is attempting to bully GA off an airport when the company has its own GA flight department featuring Gulftream 550s and Falcon 2000s.
The company also produces aircraft interiors. BMW Aircraft Interior provides upscale interiors for Pilatus and Embraer and likely other GA aircraft.
“I know BMW´s behaviour is rather odd, my guess is they have completely underestimated the reaction of the GA community as an important factor in their businessplan for turning Fuerstenfeldbruck into a driving-track said AOPA-Germany Managing Director Dr. Michael Erb In a show of support COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka wrote a letter to BMW stating that, “although our members are not directly affected by the closure of Fürstenfeldbruck, we understand the importance of maintaining a system of General Aviation (GA) airports, especially when they can be easily retained as is apparently the case with this airport.
“Before I bring this issue to our 18,000 members’ attention, many of whom are your customers or potential customers, I would like to understand BMW’s reasons why you would not be in favour of accommodating an active GA airport coexisting with a test track. A test track near an airport is certainly a compatible activity and both can be of economic benefit to the community.
“I urge BMW to consider AOPA Germany’s request and I look forward to a positive response from you so that I can report this success to my members and influence their purchase decisions by stating that BMW is indeed a GA-friendly company.”
BMW has not responded. We encourage COPA members to make your thoughts known to BMW by email: firstname.lastname@example.org