UK likely to issue new rules for offshore registrations

 - November 8, 2006, 8:04 AM

British authorities are expected to decide by mid-February how and when to apply new operating rules to business aircraft registered in the UK’s overseas territories. These new rules will likely be based on the International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) drawn up and administered by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC).

Under the latest 2006 amendments to the UK’s Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order, owners, operators and manufacturers of airliners registered in the offshore jurisdictions have to prepare for complex changes covering operations, maintenance, airworthiness and air traffic issues. These apply to aircraft registered in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Turks & Caicos Islands and the Falkland Islands.

Initially, Air Safety Support International (ASSI), the UK Civil Aviation Authority subsidiary that administers regulation of British Overseas Territories, did not extend the new requirements to corporate aviation, but a study conducted earlier this year concluded that it would not be appropriate to leave this category of operation outside the scope of the new requirements. A spokesman for ASSI said that it is waiting to receive further guidance from ICAO before seeking to introduce the proposed new requirements.

The report called for the rules to apply to aircraft operated “for non-commercial air transport purposes” that meet any of the following criteria: an mtow of more than 5,700 kg (12,566 pounds); a maximum approved passenger seating configuration of 10; certified for operation with a minimum crew of two or more pilots; operated for “business aviation purposes” and equipped with turbine engines; used for any other purposes and equipped with turbofan engines.

The CAA officials have adopted IBAC’s definition of business aviation, namely: “the non-commercial operation or use of aircraft by a company for the carriage of passengers or goods as aid to the conduct of the company business, flown by professional pilots employed to fly the aircraft.”

The envisioned new operating rules would also apply to helicopters that meet any of the following criteria: weighing more than 3,180 kg (7,010 pounds); a maximum approved passenger seating configuration of six or more; certified for operation by a minimum crew of two or more pilots; or when operated “for business aviation purposes” and powered by turbine engines.

They would also cover any business aviation operation where the operator has an operational fleet of two or more aircraft, or for any flight for which the operator is required to hold specific technical approvals, such as MNPS, PRnav or RVSM.

The new rules for offshore-registered aircraft in these categories will be covered by a Part 125 OTAR (overseas territories aviation requirements) to be drawn up by ASSI after further consultation with the business aviation community. According to ASSI, this would “turn current industry best practice into mandatory requirements to be implemented by all operators.”

The UK CAA decided to review regulations covering aircraft registered in its overseas territories after an audit revealed that some of the provisions contained in ICAO’s Annex 6, Part II and III, Section III for international general aviation had never been incorporated into the respective national regulations in compliance with ICAO’s standards and recommended practices. It is this that prompted the introduction of the 2006 Air Navigation Order (Overseas Territories).

IS-BAO Is the Key
The business aviation community will be encouraged by the fact that the UK is willing to accept IS-BAO as the basis for compliance with the new Part 125 OTAR. IBAC has been promoting these best-practices guidelines and encouraging corporate operators to complete the accreditation process.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has also shown an open mind about using IS-BAO as the foundation for the long-envisioned EU-OPS 2 rules for corporate aviation operations. The agency has also signaled an intention to require any business aircraft operating in European airspace to meet these standards, which gives operators with aircraft registered in the UK overseas territories an incentive to meet the new requirements, rather than re-register their aircraft in some other jurisdiction.