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AOPA’s reply to BMW

Here are AOPA (Germany) comments on BMW’s reply:

Dear supporter of the Fuerstenfeldbruck GA airport,

The feedback we get from aviators from all over the world is just overwhelming. We have received close to 300 emails, so we are unfortunately not able to respond to all of you individually. But let us thank you cordially for the support of the Fuerstenfeldbruck Airport, it is good to see that we from AOPA-Germany are not fighting alone!

In the meanwhile most of you should have received a reply from BMW´s Director responsible for driver training Dr. Kay Segler, which is very well written but simply not credible in its central statements.

Statement #1: The flying usage is not in any way influenced by BMW

Dr. Segler says the grievances of private and business aircraft pilots are understandable, but that an anti-airfield group in Maisach is to blame. “The decision as to whether and, if so, how flying operations are to be conducted in future must lie with the community,” he writes.
AOPA Germany says: The Fuersti Airport Project had the full support of the Bavarian Federal States’ authorities and politicians until BMW appeared on the scene to support the Maisach ‘antis’ 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 Fürsti Airport Project. 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 written that “plans for the airfield’s closure are insistently supported by BMW”. It’s impossible to claim, as Dr. Segler does, that: “The flying usage of Region 14 is not in any way influenced by BMW.”

Statement #2: Not enough space for a joint flying usage

Dr. 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, and adds: “Any joint flying usage has been ruled out at the higher technical planning level.” AOPA Germany, however, wishes to preserve for GA only a section of the massive runway and the taxiways. The runway is 2744 meters (9000´) long and 45 meters (140`) wide. Two parallel taxiways cover the full runway length and are both 20m (60`) wide, which is as wide as a four lane highway. Finally there is an apron with the huge dimension of 500 x 215 meters (1600 x 700`). So there is definitely more than enough space for a joint usage!
Dr. Segler seems to play a very active role in conquering Fuersti for BMW. Earlier this year he had an appearance on the airport grounds driving in the car of the “BMW Race Director” leading a convoy of about 20 more BMWs. In military jargon this is called “Show of Force”. Interesting to watch, but finally the horsepower force of luxury cars will not decide in this case, the decision will be up to the judges of the Bavarian Administration Court to which we appealed.

Support from endangered Ants and Butterflies

Just very recently biologists have discovered endangered and protected species on the airport grounds. The butterfly “Plebejus Idas“ and the ant “Formica fuscocinerea“ found a perfect habitat on the airport. Whereas the Fuersti airport project has already proven in an ecological audit that it has no negative side effects on the airport´s wildlife refuge area, the non-aviation project has failed its ecological audit. Welcome to our tiny supporters, let´s live together in perfect harmony on the Fuersti airport!

There is still a chance that BMW understands the consequences of annoying their customers in the worldwide General Aviation community. The telling of fairytales has to stop. And BMW should revise its Business Plan, so far they obviously have not integrated at all or completely underestimated the reaction of the GA community as an important factor. Let´s hope they learn their lesson.

The fight for our GA airport Fuerstenfeldbruck will go on!

With best regards


Verband der Allgemeinen Luftfahrt e.V.

Dr. Michael Erb

Managing Director

AOPA-Germany, Verband der Allgemeinen Luftfahrt e. V.

Flugplatz, Außerhalb 27, D-63329 Egelsbach

Tel: +49 (6103) 42081, Fax: +49 (6103) 42083

E-Mail: info@aopa.de, Internet: www.aopa.de

Fürstenfeldbruck: BMW’s reply

Here’s the reply I got from BMW’s Kay Segler, Director of BMW M GmbH about their intentions regarding Fürstenfeldbruck airfield.

You contacted our customer support on the issue of the future use of the Fürstenfeldbruck airfield. Since I am familiar with the views of the AOPA and with the way the presumed facts are being presented, it is important to me as Director of BMW M GmbH – and thus responsible for BMW Driver Training – to give you a reasoned and objective response.
For some time now we have been the target of such reproaches as you have reiterated in your letter. We accept that this is a one-sided view on the part of the AOPA, since the grievances felt by the private and business aircraft pilots are understandable. But even though you may already have formed an opinion, it is important to me to be able to present the facts from our point of view:

In the interests of their citizens, the adjacent Communities have for many years backed a non-flying usage of the site – long before BMW and the other investors became involved as subsequent users. Since the Maisach / Fürstenfeldbruck Communities have sole planning competence for the future use of the site, they are directing this towards their own interests; the relevant political framework has been set up for this.

Since the start of our involvement some 4 years ago, we have pursued a clear policy: We are happy to present our own plans for the subsequent usage of the site because, through our driver safety training programme, we can make an important contribution to road safety. However, the decision as to whether and, if so, how flying operations are to be conducted in future must lie with the Community.

One specific reproach is that we could surely draw up joint plans with the pilots. However, the following must be taken into account here:

Requests for continued flying usage should not be directed at us as subsequent users of the site, but at the Community. This is something we invariably pointed out in all discussions during the planning stages. In the meantime, however, any (joint) flying usage has been ruled out at the higher technical planning level. This is binding for all public planning authorities.

From BMW’s perspective, too, the following facts argue against the proposal for joint usage presented by the citizens’ action group “Aufsteigen mit Fürsty” (Rising with Fürsty): The runway is the focal point of our driver training programme. Flight operations so far had have approval for 20,000 movements a year. At maximum capacity that would mean an average of 55 take-offs and landings a day. Shared usage of the runway – which would peak at weekends, moreover –would make it impossible to carry out our driver safety training.

All those involved must be clear on one thing here: The flying usage of Region 14 is not in any way influenced by BMW. A legal decision and viewpoint on this have been reached.

Since the end of January, the AOPA has also been involved in the “Aufsteigen mit Fürsty” action group, and we have received numerous letters. Naturally we take these seriously, since they point the finger firmly and indiscriminately at BMW – presumably as we appear to be the most convenient target. In order to explain our stance we have collated the facts in a standard letter of reply, as well as responding personally to many enquiries and telephoning customers. This letter again summarises the facts as they currently stand.

I myself have been in touch with the AOPA and I spoke to Dr. Erb on 12.02.2010. However, it comes down to the clash of different views.

Most recently we have also been accused of destroying areas in Fürstenfeldbruck that are protected nature reserves. That is also incorrect. From the outset, all our plans have placed great value on adhering to the legal requirements. Needless to say, we will comply with all regulations.

I hope you can appreciate that we do not wish to be the target of false accusations. I am happy to take responsibility for our own plans, since the envisaged driver training centre will make an important contribution to road safety. Every year we will be teaching many thousands of participants how to respond correctly to hazards in day-to-day driving.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Kay Segler

Telefon: 0180 2 324252*
Fax: 0180 2 123484*
E-Mail: kundenbetreuung@bmw.de
Url: www.bmw.de

*0,06 EUR pro Anruf/Fax aus dem deutschen Festnetz, höchstens 0,42 EUR pro Minute
aus deutschen Mobilfunknetzen
Mo. – So. von 8:00 – 22:00 Uhr

Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft
Vorstand: Norbert Reithofer, Vorsitzender,
Frank-Peter Arndt, Herbert Diess, Klaus Draeger,
Friedrich Eichiner, Harald Krüger, Ian Robertson
Vorsitzender des Aufsichtsrats: Joachim Milberg
Sitz und Registergericht: Muenchen HRB 42243

Fürstenfeldbruck under threat from BMW

A special message to all IAOPA-Europe members from AOPA Germany

AOPA Germany would like to draw your attention to their battle to preserve the only paved and unrestricted airfield in the Munich area for general aviation.
The future of Fürstenfeldbruck is not just an issue for pilots in Bavaria or in Germany. Fürsti is a vital link in the network of airfields that makes general aviation a feasible travel option for all of us. If Fürsti is lost, we are all diminished. We are all fighting to keep our airfields open, but the battle for Fürsti is the most important such campaign in Europe at present.
Many pilots have sent emails to the would-be operators of Fürsti, the car company BMW, pointing out that GA pilots are not helpless, that they spend serious money on cars, that BMW has many rivals who produce good vehicles, and that they will in future take BMW’s behaviour over Fürsti into account when making car purchase decisions. There has been some success with this approach, especially given that a large number of GA pilots control car fleets, and a Europe-wide approach may make the difference between success and failure. Contact details are at the end of this enews.
There is no need for BMW to shut GA out of Fürsti. AOPA Germany has demonstrated that the test track they wish to establish there could live in harmony with aviation; we only want to be allowed to keep one small corner of the former military airbase. BMW’s dog-in-the-manger attitude is extraordinary, coming from a company with a strong aviation heritage – BMW engines powered some of the best aircraft of the piston fighter era, their badge is a stylised propeller, and they house their Gulfstream and Falcon corporate jets at Munich International – which is not available to GA.
Fürsti had the support of the Bavarian Government to be Munich’s GA airport until three years ago, when BMW demanded to use the airport as a test track for cars. There need be no conflict, as there is ample room on the airport for all. But BMW, which has enormous political influence in Bavaria, wanted it all and refused to speak to GA. Operations at Fürsti had to stop on June 22nd when the military abandoned the airport while civilian certification was still pending. The Bavarian Administration Court is expected to rule this autumn on the political and administrative processes which led to the current situation. AOPA Germany and Munich Flying Club are shareholders of the Fürsti operating company, which is suing the Bavarian Government over the certification process and the closure of Fürsti. They have high hopes of winning the case.
This affects you because Fürsti is an important link in the European aviation chain which, once broken, cannot be repaired. To put it in terms that BMW can understand, it’s like closing the only service station on a motorway – it would make driving impossible. It’s not a local issue.
*Are you considering buying a new car? Do you want to buy a car from a manufacturer that is actively engaged in destroying a GA airport? Please voice your opinion to BMW via e-mail to customer.service@bmw.com orkundenbetreuung@bmw.de. Local BMW dealers will want to hear what has influenced their buying-decision, so they can report to the BMW HQ. Please send a copy to info@aopa.de.
BMW calls the shots in Bavaria, but it is sensitive to commercial reality. We are a powerful car-buying constituency, and we can speak to BMW in a language they understand.
The nearest comparable GA airfield to Fürstenfeldbruck is 60 km away at at Ingolstadt – home of Audi.