EBAA Forum Report

 - October 4, 2007, 10:31 AM

The task force established by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) to deal with the issue of regulating fractional ownership expects to issue new proposals by next month. The task force has indicated that it is working toward “an accommodation” with the FAA, but has warned that European rules will not necessarily “mirror” the FAA’s Part 91 Subpart K regime. Fractional ownership operations in Europe–such as those of the NetJets Europe program–are currently required to be conducted under the commercial JAR-OPS 1 rules.

Last month, Glenn Cronin, a UK Civil Aviation Authority official appointed to the ECAC task force, told the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) Forum at London Biggin Hill Airport that he and his colleagues still have significant reservations about accepting Part 91 Subpart K and warned that it is by no means certain that a compromise can be reached. He said that ECAC officials now accept that Subpart K operators are safe, but added that there are economic and security issues that prevent them from accepting the FAA’s specially created subclass of private aircraft operators.

“First, this [Europe’s acceptance of Subpart K] would not be a level playing field because [commercial] European operators are required to have an air operators certificate (AOC),” Cronin told the meeting. “Second, the fact that the U.S. operators are private means that they fall outside the new European Union 2320 security regulations.”

ECAC is a group of 41 European states that includes 16 that are not members of the EU. It is not a regulatory body and its recommendations would need to be enforced through the EU and the national governments.

The reluctance of both European regulators and the industry to accept Subpart K operations in Europe has provoked ill-will across the Atlantic. So too have the U.S. restrictions on foreign charter operators flying into the U.S., where authorities have persisted in enforcing a restriction that prevents foreign executive charter operators from flying more than six public-transport flights into the U.S. each year unless they hold the “foreign carrier license” that applies to scheduled airlines.

In EBAA’s view, this license is unduly expensive and difficult to secure for operators who might need to make only a dozen or so flights across the Atlantic each year. U.S. charter operators flying into Europe are not subject to the same restriction, and to European operators the rule appears to serve no purpose other than to restrict competition.

In a bid to overcome these problems, NBAA and EBAA formed the international working group for business aircraft operations (IWG-BAO). The group is set to brief the ECAC task force next month. By the end of March next year, it intends to have developed a framework for “correcting deficiencies and omissions from existing rules,” according to Mark Wilson, chief executive of the British Business & General Aviation Association (BBGA–see sidebar). It will issue a final report to ECAC in May, implying that ECAC does not expect to resolve its final position until later next year.

EBAA chairman Brian Humphries said that if agreement is to be reached on these contentious issues, there will need to be changes to the way both commercial and private business aircraft operations are regulated. Cronin emphasized that the remit of the ECAC task force extends only to fractional ownership, and that it is not attempting to deal with the question of access to the U.S. for foreign charter operators.

Smaller Business Aircraft Face UK Security Rules
UK authorities are set to extend the application of the country’s National Aviation Security Programme (NASP) to aircraft weighing between 5,952 pounds and 21,825 pounds that are operated under a commercial AOC. Aircraft in this category include the TBM 700 at the bottom end of the range and the Learjet 45XR at the top. This would take Britain’s aviation security rules below the current threshold of the existing EU2320 measures, which went into effect in January last year in response to 9/11. These regulations apply to aircraft weighing more than 22,045 pounds or with 19 or more passenger seats.

Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) was expected to issue a consultation document on the extension at the end of last month allowing 12 weeks for the industry to give its views. According to Phil Williams, senior aviation security policy advisor with DfT’s transport security directorate, the department would likely introduce the new arrangements early next year.

The UK move would likely be made ahead of broader amendments to 2320 that are about to be considered by the European Commission (EC), which is looking to add more details to the requirements. It is as yet unclear whether the EC will follow the UK lead of extending 2320 to smaller aircraft, but Ireland is also understood to favor similar limits. At the end of the month French attorney Jacques Barrot will take over from Loyola de Palacio as the EC’s new transport commissioner, which could delay the review process.

Williams told the EBAA Forum that the UK NASP had essentially been implementing the measures contained in 2320 before it became Europe-wide law. The British government wants to extend the regulations to smaller categories of aircraft in response to its assessment of the risk of terrorist attacks. As a close ally of the U.S. government, Britain is generally regarded to be high on the list of prospective terrorist targets.

For security reasons, DfT does not publish details of the NASP requirements. Generally speaking, they require airports and aircraft operators to establish “footprint security” with controlled access for crews and passengers, who would need to be screened and searched. The rules require that items that could be used as weapons are barred from aircraft cabins.

The required security footprint can be created either through operating restricted zones at airports or FBOs, or by establishing a temporary footprint around an individual aircraft. The temporary footprints would be less expensive and more flexible for many business aviation operations.

The NASP also insists that those working within the security footprints wear photo security passes at all times. It requires employees to be trained in threat vigilance, search procedures, reporting incidents and reacting to them, and establishing a code of practice for crime prevention and reporting.

Williams said that the UK government is also considering plans to exercise greater security control over flying schools. It could introduce a system of vetting for students based on the type of training to be undertaken and an individual’s origins and background. It is beginning a consultation process with the country’s flight training organizations.

Bizav Polluters Will Pay in Europe
The business aviation community has a good environmental track record, but it will still not escape new controls on engine emissions, according to Jill Adam, head of the international branch of the UK DfT’s aviation environmental division. She told the EBAA Forum that the EC will be looking to all sectors of aviation to reduce overall carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.

Environmental regulators are focusing sharply on aviation because new research shows that by 2050 aviation will account for 33 to 35 percent of total CO2 emissions due to the industry’s rapid growth. This threatens to undermine the EU goal of cutting overall CO2 emissions by 60 percent by 2050.

Business aviation now accounts for less than two percent of all aviation emissions, but Adam said that regulators will still be looking to include these aircraft in initiatives such as emissions trading. EC environmental policy is now based on the assumption that small, incremental gains matter more now that large quick fixes are harder to come by without achieving step changes in aircraft engine technology.

In January, the UK will assume the presidency of the EC for a six-month term. It intends to push for emissions trading to be applied to air transport from 2008, as it already will be for other industries. However, British officials have also acknowledged that it may be difficult to develop the details of an emissions trading process for aviation in time to meet this deadline.

EC officials have also considered new environmental taxes and charges, but have decided that emissions trading–allowing companies to buy and sell emissions quotas– should be the primary measure. British Conservative Party environment and transport policy advisor Stuart Lyons told the EBAA Forum that his party is also committed to the use of emissions trading if it replaces the Labour government of prime minister Tony Blair at the next general election–indicating that there is broad political consensus over the strategy to further reduce engine emissions.

Adam predicted that the assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal, from September 28 to October 8, will endorse most of the measures proposed by the UN body’s CAEP meeting in February. These include a 12-percent reduction in (N2O) emissions for all new engines certified after 2008. It has also agreed to institute a further review of emissions levels at its next full meeting in 2007 and to introduce a revised certification regime.

SSBJ Threat to Ozone Layer?
As manufacturers consider plans for possible new supersonic business jets they will be asked to consider certification limits for noise, sonic boom and emissions. Adam said that manufacturers would have to investigate ozone impact because SSBJs would operate at higher altitudes than existing civil aircraft. She said that regulators are more concerned about the possible environmental effects of the new-generation supersonic transports because they estimate there could be 200 to 500 SSBJs, compared with just 14 production Concordes before that fleet was retired a year ago.

The EC has declared that it is willing to move faster in implementing new environmental measures than other countries and continents. Aviation lobbying groups have interpreted this declaration to mean that anticipated U.S.-led efforts to dilute or delay CAEP measures now being debated by the ICAO assembly will not deter the EC.

Glitches with JAR-OPS/EU-OPS Transition
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is now evaluating responses to its notice of proposed amendment for the new EU-OPS requirements that are to replace
the existing JAR-OPS rules. Don Spruston, director general of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), told the EBAA Forum that it was only notified of the NPA one month into a three-month consultation period and had to scramble to meet the July 31 deadline. He said that it is unclear how quickly EASA will now move to implement the final rules, which will include the EU-OPS 2 requirements for private aircraft operations (the direct equivalent to the U.S. Part 91 rules).

IBAC and EBAA have spent a lot of time working with the JAAs to develop the equivalent JAR-OPS 2 rules, which had still not been implemented when EASA was established in September last year. The business aviation lobby had been led to believe that EASA would make only light changes to JAR-OPS 2 in drafting EU-OPS, which will be mandatory–unlike JAA requirements, which are essentially voluntary and subject to changes by national authorities. IBAC developed its International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) as a basis for JAR-OPS 2 compliance. But Spruston told the EBAA Forum that he is now “not as confident” that EASA officials will accept this.