JAR OPS 2 pushed before EASA begins next year

 - May 7, 2008, 9:14 AM

The operations committee of Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) is pushing to get its JAR OPS 2 and 4 operating requirements adopted before the JAA is replaced by the new European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The EASA will assume the JAA’s aircraft certification responsibilities next September.

There is now concern among both officials and industry representatives that the EASA could seek to redraft rules that have not yet been fully adopted, further delaying a process that has been in the works for almost three years and posing the threat of more stringent requirements for corporate aircraft operators. JAA operations committee official Jim Lyons told a September 27 meeting of the UK Business Aircraft Users Association (BAUA) that the creation of the EASA does pose a potential “complication.” However, he added that the acceptance of the generic JAR OPS 0 ground rules for all categories of general aviation operations should prevent “the reinvention of the wheel” by the European Commission-backed EASA.

The EASA represents all 36 JAA member states, including the 15 EU member states. This means that its regulations will automatically be enshrined in EU law, eliminating the need for EU national governments to put the rules on their own statute books–a process that has historically resulted in burdensome and inconsistent national variations. However, technically, the non-EU states will still have to implement regulations voluntarily. The EASA’s status as an EC agency is complicated by the fact it will also be acting for the non-EU JAA states that adhere to its governance under the terms of bilateral agreements.

In any case, industry representatives are concerned that an under-resourced EASA could be pressured by officials in the EC transport directorate to revise rules already drafted under the JAA. In March 1997 at the annual conference of the European Business Aviation Association, EC air-transport policy advisor Claude Probst warned that the commission intended to rewrite the JAR OPS 1 rules (for commercial aircraft operations) to suit its own regulatory agenda, which transcends safety considerations. This was despite the fact that JAA had been working on JAR OPS 1 for several years and that it was due to take effect just 12 months later on April 1, 1998.

According to Lyons, the EASA will have no more than 150 aviation specialists. By comparison, the safety regulation group of the UK Civil Aviation Authority alone has around 700 technical staff.

BAUA members were told that the “mature draft” of the notice of proposed amendment for JAR OPS 2 (corporate aviation) and 4 (aerial work) should be agreed by the first quarter of next year. These rules cover corporate and aerial work operations.

So-called “minor operations” are to be exempt from many of the rules. These operators are currently defined as having no more than one pilot other than an aircraft owner/operator, using aircraft with an mtow of not more than 12,566 lb (or 7,000 lb for helicopters) and with a max passenger seating configuration of not more than nine. They must also not operate more than one aircraft at a time.

In fact, the JAA operations committee has indicated that it might be prepared to allow further relaxation of this definition to include, for instance, one or more additional pilots. The exempt operators would still have to meet the JAR OPS 0 ground rules and have operating minima, standard operating procedures or a personal minimum checklist.

Harmonizing JAR OPS 2 with FAR Part 91

According to Lyons, the objective in drafting JAR OPS 2 has been to come up with goal-oriented rules that are comparable to U.S. FAR Part 91 and less prescriptive than the existing JAR OPS 1 rules. JAR OPS 2 does not contain “operating rules as such, but is mainly concerned with the organization, operational control and registration of operators, as well as with training and flight manuals,” he explained. Most of the actual operating rules are contained in JAR OPS 0.

Corporate operators flying across national borders in Europe also have to apply the international appendices drawn from ICAO’s Annex 6. The ICAO rules cover factors such as minimum fuel requirements.

As far as performance requirements are concerned, JAR OPS 2 largely leaves many decisions up to operator. Extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS) limits are not included in the JAR OPS 2 draft (as had once been feared by the business aviation lobby). “That said, operators frequently flying twin-engine aircraft on long trips are well advised to raise their games,” said Lyons.

For instance, operators are responsible for assessing risk factors when deciding whether or not to carry liferafts. “Operators are advised to consider factors such as the likelihood of ditching and the availability of search-and-rescue services,” he said. One BAUA member remarked that corporate flight department managers may well find themselves under cost pressure to avoid purchasing equipment such as liferafts. Lyons agreed but stated that the ICAO standard would still be the bottom-line consideration on issues like this.

The quality system section of JAR OPS 2 specifies the new International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations document drawn up by the International Business Aviation Council as a means of JAR OPS 2 compliance. Operators in Europe and beyond are now beginning the audit process for IS-BAO. Lyons said IS-BAO more than meets the requirements for JAR OPS 2 operator registration. JAR OPS 2 currently makes no provision for mandatory inspections of corporate flight departments.