With stroke of a pen, EASA issues 1st type certificate

 - January 29, 2007, 9:59 AM

The newly formed European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued its first-ever type certificate on December 11 in Brussels, Belgium. The 633-shp Turbomeca Arriel 2B1A helicopter engine, a minor evolution in the Arriel 2 family that is to power the Chinese Z11–which is based on the Eurocopter AS 350 Ecureuil–received certificate number E.001.

Patrick Goudou, EASA’s executive director, took the opportunity to give an update on the transition from the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) to the new agency. EASA is anticipated to have more bite than the JAA since its requirements are backed by the full force of EU law, meaning that they will apply at least in the 15 EU member states.

According to recent European rules issued to support the operational launch of EASA, the agency signed the certificate in recognition of work that was undertaken by a national civil aviation authority before EASA’s birth. In this instance, since Turbomeca is based in Bordes, France, the French DGAC (direction générale de l’aviation civile) was responsible for this certification work. According to the same ruling, certificate number E.001 was awarded to the entire Arriel 2 family.

Goudou was named executive director on September 1, and EASA was officially born on September 28. From that day, it has been operational for the certification of aircraft, engines, parts and components. In addition, since November 28 EASA has been responsible for enforcing continuing airworthiness standards. In practice, the tasks are being carried out by the JAA and the national aviation authorities on behalf of the agency, EASA officials explained. The executive director of the agency just signs the approvals, for now at least.

On December 2, a service contract was signed between EASA and the JAA. EASA officials said they were making efforts to settle, as soon as possible, outsourcing contracts between the agency and each national aviation authority. In the coming months and years, EASA will take over the tasks internally as the size of its staff grows. In other words, the national aviation authorities of the EU member states will gradually become part of an integrated system. Completion of the transition phase is scheduled for March 2007.

The appointment of four directors (for rulemaking; quality and standards; certification; and administration) and the first technical staff is expected early this year. EASA should also issue proposals on essential requirements (ERs) and implementing rules (IRs) for air operations and flight-crew licensing before year-end.

Last, but not least, the agency will move from its temporary office in Brussels to Cologne. On December 14, the Union EU member states officially designated the German city as EASA’s headquarters.