EBAA could vet JAR OPS 2 rules for bizav under JAA plan

 - March 19, 2008, 6:40 AM

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) might receive some delegation of authority from the JAA to monitor the application of JAR OPS 2 operational rules for corporate aviation. On September 23 in Paris during a roundtable conference at the French DGAC civil aviation authority’s headquarters, operators and members of the JAA exchanged views on the advanced notice of proposed amendment (A-NPA) for JAR OPS 2 and agreed on the value of a code of best practices. This could lead to shared responsibility between European authorities and EBAA.

The final rule could come into effect next summer. The JAA released the A-NPA on April 4 and the deadline for comments was initially said to be July 18, and later delayed to August 8. This was for JAR OPS 0 (common ground), 2 (corporate aviation) and 4 (aerial work). JAR OPS 0 draws most of its substance from Annex 6, which deals with general aviation in Part II of the Chicago Convention.

The objective of the roundtable was to find out how the proposed regulation could be implemented and to identify the trouble spots. Although this latest meeting was a debate among the French only, it gave an interesting insight of the European rulemaking process. “The objective of this A-NPA is to complement current JAR OPS rules [notably JAR OPS 1, which apply to commercial air operators] with rules for corporate and aerial work operations,” noted Alain Vella, the chief of the technical regulation office at the DGAC’s training and technical monitoring division.

At the same table at the DGAC’s amphitheater were representatives of the French civil aviation authorities and officials from EBAA, Dassault and Eurocopter. This mixture symbolized the improved dialogue among parties.

A Step Forward
“This A-NPA for JAR OPS 2 is a major step forward,” EBAA France president Olivier de l’Estoile noted. However, he suggested that the new rules should be simpler. “The average fleet of a business jet operator is 1.7 aircraft,” he reminded, and a small operation with structures in proportion cannot handle complex regulatory issues. He also emphasized the usefulness of the explanatory notes that accompany the A-NPA, calling for the definitive rules to retain them.

A difficulty in the final rule will be to have a list of compulsory means of compliance articulated with a list of performance objectives, Vella pointed out. The former would include items such as training, equipment and certification. “But we really tend to implement performance objectives through a code of best practices,” he said. In the project, a professional organization such as the EBAA would monitor the application of this code and the JAA would oversee the process.

In some countries it would be the first time such a delegation of authority is put in place. For example, it is not ingrained in French culture for a professional organization to have the authority to enforce a rule on its members. “The challenge is how the industry will monitor itself,” Vella emphasized.

But the French administration is aware of the good results such a plan could yield in other European countries. For example, the Popular Flying Association in the UK already monitors amateur aircraft construction. Finally, it appears the French DGAC is not opposed to and may even be in favor of such a delegation of authority.

Even finding an acceptable definition of “corporate aviation” is not easy. For example, the definition of corporate aviation by the International Business Aviation Council (“that sector of aviation which concerns the operation or use of aircraft by companies for the carriage of passengers or goods as an aid to the conduct of their business, flown for purposes generally considered as not for public hire and piloted by individuals having at the minimum a valid commercial pilot license with an instrument rating”) is not the same as that of the JAA in the A-NPA (“the use of aircraft other than for commercial air transportation when owned or leased and operated by a company [or undertaking] for the transportation of any persons or cargo in furtherance of that company’s [or undertaking’s] business”).

In the JAA’s proposed definition of corporate aviation, some DGAC officials understand that passengers should be people “close to the company”–customers, vendors or employees. Such an interpretation highlights the fact that every word should be perfectly clear for every person in charge of enforcing the rule. This is no easy task when at least 25 countries will use the same rules, which will be translated from English into almost as many languages.

This was not the only problem that emerged with translations. “The same words in English and in French can have close but different meanings,” de l’Estoile stressed. For example, “company” was translated in the DGAC’s version into “compagnie.” But the latter’s meaning is much closer to “airline” than “firm.” DGAC officials want to keep an eye on this issue as it could lead to different application of rules in Europe depending on the language translation.

IS-BAO Touted
De l’Estoile promoted the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), which was released last year, as a good candidate for the future code of best practices. “IS-BAO is like an ISO certification,” he pointed out. French companies are more used to ISO certification than codes of best practice. Whatever the code of practice that will be put in place, DGAC officials would like to avoid a repeat of the way JAR 145 rules have been put in place in the maintenance industry.

“We claimed that we were delegating some authority with the system of approved maintenance organizations. But we also retained the old idea of watching, making the new system heavier than the original one. This time we have to really delegate some power,” Vella insisted.

Vella appreciates that the way the new rules are enforced should take into account the size of the operation. “We should not make the same error we made with JAR OPS 3 rules for commercial helicopter operations,” Vella told AIN. He said that JAR OPS 3 was written with a lot of input from big operators but little input from small ones. This resulted in rules that are not well suited to the latter.

JAR OPS 2 would apply to all civil aircraft based in JAA countries, as well as aircraft whose operator has a base in Europe. The A-NPA’s definition of an “operating base” is already an issue: “It may contain one or more of the following: maintenance, operational scheduling, flight planning, training and so on.” NBAA and GAMA fear that the definition and the formal registration of all bases will place an economic burden on operators.

What “registration” will mean in JAR OPS 2 still needs to be clarified. Vella said a possibility is to register only those who sign the code of best practices.

“The long-awaited JAR OPS 2 rules might  be completely reshaped by [EASA],” Vella told AIN. This is not the opinion, however, of EBAA France’s de l’Estoile: “There will probably be some muddle during the transition phase between the JAA and the EASA, but I cannot imagine the new agency simply ignoring the huge amount of work the new JAR OPS represent.”