FFA and Total: aviation, the driving force behind a historic partnership that looks to the future
After FFA (French Aeronautical Federation) celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019, 2020 signals the 25th anniversary of its partnership with Total. This long-standing partnership has just been renewed for another three years. The renewal testifies to the mutual trust and respect between these two organisations, which are working together to take tomorrow’s aviation to even greater heights. Paul Mannes, Total's Vice President for Aviation, and FFA President Jean-Luc Charron discuss their recollections and plans for the future.
A winning partnership between two major players in the aviation industry
A 25-year partnership that illustrates how a beneficial partnership can work. "Total is a strategic partner. Not only does it supply us with the fuel our aircraft need to fly; it also supports us through its services, which are essential for us," explains Jean-Luc Charron. In fact, Total monitors the fuel market from both the technical and regulatory angles, in addition to providing the refuelling logistics during the events held by FFA.
"Plus, Total supports and trains the flying clubs affiliated with our federation. It helps them monitor their facilities to make sure they’re always up to standard regarding the choice of fuel and, most importantly, that they comply with safety regulations.”
Safety, a core Total Group value, is a key concern of this partnership. Paul Mannes confirms: "Our relationship goes way beyond business and financial considerations. If it has existed for so many years, it’s above all because we share the same values. One of these is safety, which is essential to the aviation industry. Others are respect, a pioneering spirit, a taste for performance and strong mutual support." Thanks to FFA, Total has gained visibility across the country: today, 220 airfields are supplied by Total and receive regular investments.
Total and FFA: outstanding aeronautical events
If there’s one event that absolutely embodies the partnership between Total and FFA, it’s the 2019 World Aerobatic Championships in Châteauroux. Total supports FFA in terms of logistics at this type of event. "We both want to make a great event happen," underlines Jean-Luc Charron. In 2019, over 160,000 people attended the triumph of Aude Lemordant, who has been supported by Total for years. One of the special features of this year's event was the emphasis placed on refuelling, which was designed to come across as part of the entertainment. The truck was stationed in front of the spectators, who were able to attend the refuelling operations. Another major event was the Young Pilots' Air Flip, during which more than fifty aircraft had to be refuelled.
Aviation serving regional dynamics
For a number of years, the State has been withdrawing its backing from small airfields, although they play an important role in the local economic and sports fabric. FFA and Total are therefore working together to keep these airfields alive and well. "Our close ties with Total make it possible to maintain refuelling points, so that people can fly and refuel in complete safety," says Jean-Luc Charron. And, as Paul Mannes confirms: "Being FFA's partner, we can provide overall aviation support at these airfields rather than taking action on an ad hoc basis." Flying clubs are part of what makes French aeronautics excel. At one stage or another of their career, all engineers use them to train or simply to observe. Because this sector is struggling to recruit, capitalising on flying clubs and the ever-increasing number of licence holders seems to be a solution to promote aeronautics.
A shared vision of environment-friendliness
Nowadays, commercial aviation is widely singled out for its environmental impact. Both partners have nevertheless clearly identified this problem, which applies to a lesser extent to civil aviation, and are trying to find appropriate solutions. “Noise pollution is our main concern" explains Jean-Luc Charron. To reduce noise and cause less disturbance to the people living in the vicinity of our airfields, we’ve created an electric training aircraft designed for circuits training, the Alpha Electro, which is much quieter. On its side, Total is taking action to reduce CO2.emissions. Thanks to a Group subsidiary, Sunpower (the company that fitted out the famous Solar Impulse), photovoltaic panels are to be installed in unused areas of airfields. "Acting for the climate is a necessity. Our future undoubtedly depends on renewable and carbon-free energies. In the very short term, Total is a firm believer in biofuels. France's first biorefinery has opened in La Mède. It currently produces biofuels for the ground segment, although it does have the capacity to produce them for the aeronautics industry. In the medium and long term, hydrogen could be used to produce synthetic fuels, which are a potential solution because they will not require changes to the infrastructure, either in aircraft or in the field," adds Paul Mannes. Working together, the two partners are determined to best prepare for the energy and societal transition required to sustain French flying clubs.