Deadlines extended for comments on proposed EASA rules

 - April 30, 2009, 12:43 PM

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended the comment periods for three key notices of proposed amendment (NPA) under which it will assume responsibility for regulating aircraft operations. The deadlines for the industry to respond to NPA 2009-1 (operational suitability certificate) and NPA 2009-02a-02g (air operations) have been pushed back by two months to June 30 and July 31, respectively. A further six weeks, until May 30 from April 15, has been allowed to comment on NPA 2008-22a-22e (authority and organization requirements).

“We have listened to the reactions of our stakeholders and have come to the conclusion that more time is needed to become familiar with our proposals and our NPA procedures,” said EASA rulemaking director Jules Kneepkens. “We will continue to fully inform industry of our proposals in dedicated workshops and online information.”

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) welcomed the move as “a step in the right direction.” However, it indicated that it might push for further concessions in the approval process for the new legislation following further consultation with national aviation authorities.

As things stand, the legislation through which the new operational requirements will become European Union law is not expected to be approved by EU transport ministers until October next year. It is expected to be introduced as new legislation to the European Parliament before the end of September this year. This would give operators less than 18 months to be fully compliant by the April 2012 implementation deadline. In its April 1 statement, the EASA gave no indication as to whether this legislative timetable can now be adjusted to allow more time.

EBAA president Brian Humphries told AIN the association is glad that the EASA has, in theory, acknowledged that existing industry standards for aircraft operations can be accepted as the basis for compliance. It is now seeking confirmation that the agency accepts that the International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations, drawn up and enforced through the International Business Aviation Council, will be the established means of compliance.

“The indications are that EASA will say that if you operate to satisfactory industry standards, and you have been audited and registered against that standard, then that’s all they need to know,” said Humphries.

What EBAA has not been happy about is the structure of the proposed new operating rules. Despite the fact that they are supposed to be derived largely from the existing JAR OPS 1 and 3 rules, the EASA has reorganized the requirements across three separate sets of rules. This has obliged the industry to study more than 1,000 pages of draft regulations to be able to provide informed comment on the NPAs.