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All About Aviation Insiders Interview with Antonis Koutsoudakis, President of AOPA HELLAS

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All About Aviation Insiders Interview with Antonis Koutsoudakis, President of AOPA HELLAS
June 23
12:47 2015

The founder the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Hellas (AOPA) Antonis Koutsoudakis didn’t start his career in aviation but in the world of physics.  Upon graduating with a physics degree koutsoudakis 2from the University of Thessaloniki he then taught the subject as a university professor for several years. Then he turned to the aviation industry and didn’t look back.  He worked as an air traffic controller CPO for 32 years and retired in 2009.  With more than 600 hours of flight under his belt, he also has been trained to investigate aviation accidents and has been deployed to investigate numerous accidents.

Koutsoudakis has also served as technical director for various airshows and air rallies. He has sat on boards and for aviation organizations including the Air Club Thessaloniki, Hellenic Air Sports Federation and the Aviation Academy of Greece.   He is the former Director of Volatile CAA Standards and continues to serve as the president of AOPA Hellas.

He sat down with All About Aviation.gr to give us insight on flight schools in Greece and his organization’s recent request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reconsider certain legislation on the issue.

All About Aviation.gr:  Tell us more about AOPA.  

AOPA Hellas is a Greek non-profit association that is comprised of general aviation pilots and aircraft owners. We support our members by promoting the safety and use of general aviation aircraft for personal use, business use or leisure. We support the use of top aviation technology and systems and cooperate with the state to help develop regulations in the industry.

All About Aviation.gr:  You have written about the issue of flight schools and how some say they are a security risk.  Let’s start with the issue of light planes. What is AOPA’s stand on this?

The position of AOPA Hellas, in collaboration with AOPA Europe, can be summarized easily.  Light planes are not a “hotbed of danger” as some in the industry claim.  Think about this scenario. What would happen if a light airplane was dropped onto a modern building? For sure, the plane would be destroyed and fall on the sidewalk. However, the building wouldn’t have any significant damage.

All About Aviation.gr:  Tell us about AOPA’s stand on the safety of airplane schools.

There hasn’t been even one case, reported internationally, of an airplane school for terrorist purposes. However, let’s suppose that a terrorist would want to use a light aircraft for illegal purposes.  Why would that terrorist go to an airplane school to conduct their illegal behavior?  A terrorist can easily and inexpensively purchase one on the market without the limitations imposed by a flight school.

All About Aviation.gr: Some leaders in the Greek aviation industry agree with you. The time required for visa issuance (type-D) in combination with a Greek residence permit makes the waiting time to study at flight schools quite long. What are your thoughts on that?

AOPA believes that no European country should resort to the extreme regulations that prevent international students from enrolling in flight schools here in Greece.   In England, flight schools have recently allowed enrolments from Libya. Also in England, training for amateur airplane pilot’s license does not require a special permit.  It can be completed in six months with a tourist license.

All About Aviation.gr:  What kind of action has AOPA Hellas taken on the issue?

Recently, we officially requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reconsider these laws listed in Greek as Ερμηνευτική Εγκύκλιος του ΥΠΕΞ 03.08.2012. We had asked them to consider the view of AOPA Europe and AOPA Hellas on this subject.  We believe that eventually we can find common ground on this issue. It is an important one in our industry.

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