Round table

Days of Small Aviation in Carpathian region

Oleksandra Chizmadiya, Representative of the Consulate General of Hungary in Uzhhorod, Ukraine

I would like to emphasize that even though it is such a difficult time in Ukraine, we, as the Consulate General, continue to work, and economic issues continue to remain a priority for us. We continue to support economic ties between countries, between companies, and assist companies in search of a partner – Hungarian in Ukraine, Ukrainian in Hungary. We also try to provide all the necessary support to companies in their work. Last week, we met the deputy head of the military administration, Mr. Patskan, and the head of the Zakarpattia IT cluster, and now we plan to organize a joint event for Ukrainian companies, where companies from the IT cluster, as well as Hungarian companies, will be invited to support economic ties and cooperation between them.

A projekt fő célja, hogy a meglévő határ menti légi közlekedési infrastruktúra felhasználásával, a határ menti önkormányzatok, szakmai intézmények és légiközlekedési vállalatok közötti együttműködés erősítésével, légi közlekedési (kisrepülőgépek) kapcsolatok létrehozásával fenntartható platformot hozzon létre a személyek és áruk hatékony, határokon átnyúló mobilitásához. Ez az egyik leginnovatívabb megközelítés, amelyet a határ menti régiókban valaha is javasoltak a fenntartható és klímabiztos közlekedés fejlesztése terén.

Andriy Sheketa, acting Head of the Transcarpathian Regional Council, Ukraine

The position of the authorities in the Zakarpattia region, in particular the Transcarpathian regional council, has not changed, and this project is as important to us as it was before the war. Yes, the war can make certain adjustments, but we fully support this idea, and we want this project to be implemented and developed. I hope that a partial result of today’s meeting will be that we will get closer to the picture of the vision of how small aviation will develop in the Carpathian region. Therefore, I wish everyone objective, professional, and most importantly fruitful work today.

Mihai Patrascu, Director of the Satu Mare Airport, Romania

During the last period in terms of small aviation we have flew a lot. Development of a small aviation is very important despite the situation. Also, businesses are very important for us and we want to involve them into the project. In this moment in Romania aviation is a key factor for the development and for the investments, as well as for the whole Europe. I really want to believe that this project is only the first step that we are going to take in this region and it’s only the first step in those to come.

Brigitta Laslo, Regional Development Association for the Carpathian Euroregion, Hungary

It is my pleasure to be here today at this Round table and especially it is a great honor that Consulate Generals from Uzhhorod and Berehovo are here. I would like to welcome the vice president of Transcarpathian county council, our project partners, communities and experts at this event. This is very challenging and difficult times in the eastern part of Europe, especially in Ukraine. Our project partners are facing great difficulties these days. The implementation of our project is facing the difficulties – first the pandemic situation and then the war in Ukraine. The competitiveness of a country or a region is fundamentally determined by its accessibility and the development of its infrastructure. Nataliya Nosa is an old friend of mine, we have been working together for a long time and we had a common project in the framework of the ENPI. About 8 years ago we created the Carpathian Euroregion strategy, and one of the first priority was to develop mobility in the cross-border area. We have to implement the strategy, so we are now working on the MOBI project. It is a project financed by ENPI, and the partner from our side is Self-government of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. One of the priorities of this project is small aviation. So, Natalia and Mihai decided that it can be a good project and we could continue our activity on developing mobility in a new project called “Carpathian small aviation”. Our association was established in 2001 and we established this organization to have a legal framework for the county council. We have implemented a lot of projects in the cross-border area with our partners from Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia. I am sure that the role of mobility will increase in this area and after the war we can start closer cooperation. And we can use a small aircraft network in this frame of mobility. We can use the examples of the western part of Europe, where it works as a daily transport for cross-border cooperation. It can be a good example for us and we can use it.

Volodymyr Feskov, Agency of Regional Development and Cross-Border Cooperation “Transcarpathia”, Ukraine

I am glad to be present at this event, in my opinion, this is the first meeting where we will talk about Carpathian aviation in the context of Transcarpathian aviation. That’s why I’m glad to see representatives of local self-governments at this event, because it directly affects communities, their opportunities, and the opportunities of our region. Despite the difficult situation in Ukraine today, this difficult, but very necessary project for the region continues to work, and we are moving towards the goals that were set from the very beginning, and most importantly, we are moving towards the dream that the project partners are actually living. I am not sure with what final key results we will end this event, however, I would really like it, if this event would make the representatives of local self-government bodies to fall in love with the idea itself, and stimulate them to get involved in it as much as possible, because it is about our joint opportunities, and about the great future of the region for which, on their part, the partners did everything necessary. All of us are here to offer you our partnership and long productive cooperation, so that a number of airfields for small aviation appear in Zakarpattia, so that our connection, including cross-border, would not only be convenient, but also productive, so that we could fly to Satu Mare, to Prague etc., that is, for short distances, to develop business, to negotiate about the important future of our communities, and just to fly for a vacation.

Oleh Luksha, representative of the regional Branch of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, Ukraine

For Ukraine, the subjects and beneficiaries of the development of small aviation as a modern lever of economic development at the local and regional levels are the territorial communities of Zakarpattia, in particular, representatives of the communities of Bushtyno, Berehovo, Solotvino, Dubove, Khust, etc. that are present here physically or online. Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine accelerated and actualized all economic processes both at the local and cross-border levels, because the war creates not only crisis, but also opportunities. This applies to all types of international transport – freight, business and tourism. I believe that for a successful discussion today, it is necessary to emphasize those details that hinder the development of small aviation in the Carpathian region.

Samer Al-Rabeei, representative of Svidnik airport, Slovakia

Regarding Svidnik airport my colleague Josef Sabov, is responsible from our side to collaborate with people, and he trains students from Svidnik airport directly, and we have collaboration even with Kosice local airport and we train our student directly there. We will try to make some improvement and development of the connection between Svidnik and Kosice airport, because the two airports are separated and are not working together. This project will be a good opportunity to think on how to connect the two airports and to do some scientific research together.

Nandor Csiky, Regional Development Association for the Carpathian Euroregion, Hungary

During the meeting in Nyíregyháza we had an opportunity to hold a Round table discussion about the objectives of the project, including the specialized work to be carried out. This includes specific tasks such as combined VFR guide, trainings for communities and developing strategies in small aviation for the Carpathian region. Our next task would be to select experts who could carry out the specific tasks in the near future, and we are already working on that. On the Hungarian side we have very good candidates who have been working on similar tasks – strategy development and community building – for a long time, so we are very positive that with your help we will select experts very soon. We are also looking for communities is Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county in Hungary, who are willing to cooperate and who are interested in creating runways, or who already have runways, so they could join the program. So, there are opportunities for cooperation between the airports, e.g. a joint training between Satu Mare and Nyíregyháza airports.

The airport in Nyíregyháza is serving the purposes of pilot trainings. Pilot trainings have been going on for 54 years in Nyíregyháza. Approximately 200-300 pilots are being trained at the time. Those pilots are trained by the University of Nyíregyháza, Wizzair and in private formats. The airport of Nyíregyháza will be extended and developed soon, currently we have a 1000m long runway and we are going to have another runway parallel to the existing one, which will be 1500 m. Small aviation would be also important for business and tourism purposes.  Business and tourism are very important for Nyíregyháza, because Nyíregyháza is a very dynamically developing city, e.g. the biggest investment in Hungary is carried out in Nyíregyháza. This is a factory which will produce batteries, meaning that a big factory will be built in Nyíregyháza, so business will be stronger and small aviation can play part in this. Tourism is also very important, as the Nyíregyháza Zoo has been selected as the best zoos in its category for the 3rd time. This is one of the reasons why we want to boost small aviation in Nyíregyháza, Ukraine and Slovakia, and in the whole region.

Mihai Patrascu, Director of the Satu Mare Airport, Romania

“Wingly” platform. During the recent years 60,000 passengers in flights have come through the platform. 2000 airfields are involved in this platform. 25 000 already gifted flights. There is a network were pilots state what they can offer. For example, you can choose France, or cities that people choose most often are shown on the platform. So, you just click at the place you want to visit – you see some images of the scenaries you can see during the flight, there is also a small description of what you can do at that location, a flight plan, price, and there is also some information about the pilot (flying hours he has and reviews from the passengers), the aircraft, and the availability of flights. Similar flights are to different European locations. This platform is good for developing both – tourism and business. There is also an airport and airfield map. You can see that there are no airfields in our region, so the idea is to create the same platform for our region. I do hope that pilot communities which are very optimistic and very passionate could find their place at this map.

So, on the one hand there are offers given by pilots and I want to create the flight sharing platform that would be similar to the BlaBlaCar system. For example, if there are people willing to travel from Nyíregyháza to Romania, so that even private persons could insert there need to travel. There would be two section of the platform – 1) pilots that can offer flights, 2) requirements and needs for travel from business people, tourists etc. Those two offers and demands would meet together. So, if there are pilots that have not registered their flight intentions, they would be able to see that there are passengers willing to travel, e.g. from Nyíregyháza to Kosice, and the pilot could take them there.

Unfortunately, pilots have to fill in a lot of documents, this is the reason some pilots would not want to register their flying intentions, but at least they would be able to see what the requirements are. So, they could match the criteria of the person searching for travel in the area. At the end of the project I hope I could give it to “Wingly” to insert our airports into the map. “If you do not have Facebook, you do not exist” – so, if we do not have ‘Wingly’ we do not exist in this network. This is something we could build, develop and work on together in order to make the bricks of this construction. If I was able to conquer all my fears and to start flying and to be the only man in Europe going to job by his own plain, If I could do this then you all can do this. Flying is 3 times quicker than going by car, normally journey from my home to office takes one and a half hour by car, and less than 30 minutes by plain, and the consumption of fuel is approximately the same. On the one hand, the time that you save is very important, and on the other hand, the joy and satisfaction you have during the flight cannot be described by words.

There are also a lot of infrastructural components that have to be fulfilled in the project – runways, landing strips, equipment, aircraft etc. But as soon as we have a desire and a dream everything can be achieved. Aviation is community activity, you cannot do aviation by your own. For example, the glider requires 3 people to take off. So, we need to support each other in order to achieve our dreams.

Henadiy Hazan, President of the National Branch of AOPA Ukraine, Ukraine

I would like to say that I was the first private pilot to fly from Ukraine to Kosice, Slovakia, I am also the President of the National Branch of AOPA Ukraine, the Regional Representative of the World Aviation Organization AOPA, headquartered in the USA, and currently the largest aviation public organization that unites private pilots. In my opinion, the highlight of the project is that Uzhhorod, Zakarpattia can become one of the few aviation gateways to Ukraine. Therefore, it is very important for Ukraine and Zakarpattia. Until recently, difficulties with the execution of flights were associated with the existence of aviation laws related to the peculiarities of the execution of flights in the border area. I was one of the persons on whose initiative there were changes in the Ukrainian legislation that simplified the execution of flights in the border area.

The aviation school is located in the city of Lviv at the “Tsuniv” airfield, it is called the West Ukrainian School of Aviation and is the closest to Zakarpattia. This is a certified aviation school, which does not only train pilots, including private pilots, but is also certified to service aviation equipment. Any transport also includes aviation work, that is, payment for the work must be made. That is, the plane must be certified and the pilot must have a CPL (commercial pilot airplane license), if this will not be paid, then the issue of partial acceptance of the costs of the flight in Europe has not yet been fully resolved. That is, if there are aviation jobs, they include a certified aircraft, certified Part-145 maintenance, and certified pilot. Therefore, perhaps this idea is good for European partners, but for Ukraine it is only good in the long term. I would be very happy if your organization would join the European part of AOPA to help simplify the aviation procedures that exist in Europe today. In addition, ultralight aircraft weighing 450 kg are prohibited from carrying out any commercial flights, in particular in Ukraine.

For the development of general-purpose aviation in Zakarpattia, communities need to understand that it is necessary to allocate a plot of land for the creation of a runway of optimal length of 800 m, width of 30 m and 50 m at the ends along the length and 20 m for the lateral safety strip on the sides.

Lyudmila Kozlovska, expert, Ukraine

Among the basic documents on which Ukrainian legislation in the field of aviation is based is the Convention on International Civil Aviation from 1944. Ukraine, as an independent state, joined it in 1992. At the national level, customs are controlled by several documents – the Customs Code of Ukraine is a document that regulates the general provisions in the sphere of the implementation of customs policy in Ukraine. If we emphasize the attraction of foreigners and the temporary importation of aircraft into the territory of Ukraine, this is regulated by Article 380 of the “Customs Code of Ukraine” without monetary deposits. On the basis of the Customs Code, more detailed documents have been developed that include the specifics of crossing the state border of persons, various types of transport, including air transport and cargo moved by them. In 2012, the Ukrainian government adopted Resolution 451, which approved a typical technological scheme for customs control of air vehicles, carriers and goods moved by them at checkpoints across the state border. Of course, we must understand that the technological scheme, which is approved for peacetime, is adjusted during martial law.

A typical technological scheme determines the sequence of actions of customs authorities and other controlling authorities, at the moment also military ones, for carrying out customs control and registration of aircraft. On the territory of Zakarpattia, the international checkpoint for air traffic across the state border is the checkpoint “Uzhhorod” of the Zakarpattia Customs with a customs control zone at the international airport “Uzhhorod”. It is very important to simplify the formalities regulated by Article 22 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This article states that each Contracting State agrees by issuing special regulations or otherwise to take all possible measures to facilitate and accelerate the navigation of aircraft between the territories of the Contracting States and to prevent unnecessary delays of aircraft, crews, passengers and cargo, especially when applying emigration, quarantine, customs control. If we talk about today’s challenges and opportunities in terms of project implementation, the biggest challenge is the ongoing war in Ukraine, but at the same time, many opportunities are appeared. As a good opportunity, we should use the fact that technical and technological enterprises, as well as educational and scientific institutions are being relocated from other regions to our region. We must also consider that the cluster system is very effective in the world. If the authorities, communities together with business, scientific institutions join their efforts, and will also jointly use the opportunities and advantages of each other in order to develop the direction of aviation in the region, it would be much more effective than if everyone works separately. With a developed network of airfields and the corresponding infrastructure, it is quite easy to change the issue of creating customs control zones.

Mihai Patrascu, Director of the Satu Mare Airport, Romania

There are 3 different aspects: airports, airfields and landing stripes. I won’t talk about airports, because we cannot build any airports within the project, and not even about airfields, because they require investments, and we do not have any within the project. If communities want to invest their own money, there is possibility to create airfields. In terms of requirements – small aircraft needs very short landing stripes. The main idea is what do you want in future, what do you want to achieve. In Romania there are some landing stripes which have 360 m or 400 m, and owner of the aircraft has created his own landing strip close to his house and he uses it as a landing stripe for his own aircraft. It is a landing strip, but it is not airfields, others cannot fit in or land in this place. This is why you should think what you want to do with this landing stripe in 5 years, what do you have in terms of community, what are the priorities of the political administration of the local community. Because it would be a pity to create something now that will not be used in 5 years. This can happen for 3 reasons: 1) the landing strip would be too short for aircraft that you want to fit in in future, 2) there might be some houses which can be developed in the landing glide or in the area of the airfield, and in the future those areas would be barrier or obstacle; 3) we have to think in harmony with the whole region, the strategy of the region, or to have general plan of development. I would definitely focus on basic requirements for the airfield, e.g. the length should be minimum 500 m, width should be at least 40 m, degree of the strip no more than 2%; in terms of surroundings – 2 000 m around the landing strip should be identified and marked any obstacles higher than 45 m, no residential areas, houses or buildings in the landing stripes closer than 2 000 m. The minimal length of the landing stripe should be 500 m, but if possible extend to 1 000 m in future, because you might fit in a bigger aircraft in future.

Vitaly Tuzyak, representative of Khust city territorial community, Ukraine

Khust territorial community is a community of regional importance, located in the center of Zakarpattia region. It is one of the centers of market trade, medical and socio-cultural services. The community includes 1 city and 27 villages. The area of ​​the community is 407 square kilometers. Population – 81,126 people. Its territory is crossed by roads of state importance: Kurovichi – Western border (Chop) and Khust – Dolyna.

Zakarpattia region borders Romania and Hungary to the south, Slovakia and Poland to the west, as well as the Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions of Ukraine to the north. It can be said that the location of the Khust community in the central part of the region is very important, which allows it to be a kind of central hub, both for the economic activity of the region and for the tourist component of the region.

Historically, Zakarpattia region was one of the most promising regions for the development of the so-called “Small Aviation”. In Tyachiv region, for example, there was a small aviation airport, and in addition, there was a helicopter construction center. Usually, large airplanes are adapted for long-distance flights and can carry more than 200 people on board, while “Small Aviation” includes air transportation of up to 18 people. In addition, a small plane can take you in 1 hour to a place where even by car it takes about 4-5 hours to get there. Small light aircraft would allow the region to reach a new level of providing tourist services.

At one time, even airships flew over the territory of the Khust community. These machines reached a length of up to 150 meters, a gas mixture volume of up to 22 thousand cubic meters and could transport up to 8 tons of cargo. Today, modern airships could also allow each guest to fully enjoy the beauty of our native land.

At the beginning of 2017, an article about the July 1964 report of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the US Department of Defense on the existence of a military airfield in the city of Khust was circulated on the local web pages of Zakarpattia. Unfortunately, a detailed examination of the above-mentioned document revealed that there was no airfield, but nevertheless, the concern of the American special services about its possible presence indicates that the city of Khust and its surroundings were perceived in the world as strategically important territories that could be organized for military airfield near the borders of neighboring countries.

Residents of the Khust community have always been fascinated by the sky, because such a religious and inter-confessional region wants to be closer to God. Even an ordinary glider was consecrated before future flights.

Of course, in addition to the tourist component, the community needs its agricultural aviation. Climatic conditions create favorable conditions for pests and diseases, which significantly reduce productivity. A community would be able to supply better and larger quantities of vegetables and fruits both to Ukrainian markets and abroad if there was a small amount of agricultural air pollution and constant processing of fields and air.

In view of the above, it can be said that the Khust urban territorial community is one of the most promising communities of Zakarpattia region for participation in the international project “Carpathian Small Aviation”, because all the conditions are present here (proximity to the borders, free land plots for construction and, above all, incredible beauty of the region) for its successful implementation.

Denys Kahanets, head of the Dubove Territorial Community, Ukraine

It’s very good that I came to this event, because I had a completely different view on the small aviation – there is an area where you can build a runway and that’s it. In fact, there should be not only a landing strip, but also an airfield with all restrictions and regulations. Historically, it happened that before the collapse of the Soviet Union, we had an actively functioning helicopter factory, which employed about 5,000 people, and produced various components for helicopters and airplanes, as well as the helicopters themselves were manufactured at our factory. Therefore, our community is closely connected with aviation. We also built a college that trained specialists who would work in this industry. But now these 22 hectares of land are in ruins. Unfortunately, at the time, not enough attention was paid to this factory, which was ruined, all the equipment, scrap metal, etc. were taken away. The good thing is that the specialists still remained, that is, there are specialists in this field, but it is necessary to work and develop aviation, considering all the conditions and limitations. Therefore, we will gladly participate in future meetings and hope that everything will work out together.

Serhiy Mishchii, Deputy head of the Bushtyno community, Ukraine

Although now is a difficult time, we are raising very important issues. The idea of ​​small aviation is an idea that can hardly be called a whim or a political whim of the administration, it is rather a necessity to bring the idea to life, because we have residents of the community who already own aircraft, and we also have several entrepreneurs, namely 8 people who want to buy aircraft. We clearly understand the necessary technical characteristics, as Bushtyno has a history associated with a military airfield. We deeply approached the issues of the geography of the sites, looked at the location of future runways, how regulatory works will be carried out, etc. If we are talking about aviation that will bring tourists and businessmen here, it is most likely Cessna, so based on the geography of the area that is in the territory of the community today, we decided that we will go this way, because there is a need entrepreneurs and businessmen. In addition, we are currently producing gas, and the construction of a salt mine and a salt leaching plant has begun. In addition, there are several operating sanatorium-resort centers and the prospect of building new ones. Therefore, considering these facts, it can be seen as an opportunity to develop the region. Perhaps it will be an infusion of local self-government funds, but most likely it will be a public-private partnership agreement, because there are many entrepreneurs who are ready to enter this business and it will be governed by the local government under the agreement.