EASA pledges to slowly intro rule changes

 - September 30, 2009, 6:07 AM

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said it will show greater flexibility in how it takes over responsibility for air operations, flight crew licensing, oversight of non-European operators, air traffic management and airports over the next few years. Responding to a deluge of complaints from all sectors of the aviation industry, the management board of the European Commission-backed agency announced a change of approach on September 15, pledging to minimize any rulemaking changes.

“We have listened to our stakeholders and agreed on an approach that will allow for a smooth transition,” said EASA executive director Patrick Goudou. “Our proposals will be based on existing legislation and safety standards.”

“Changes to existing rules will be proposed only if justified by safety considerations,” added Zoltan Kazatsay, the European Commission’s deputy director general for energy and transport.

In particular, the EASA has promised to adjust its proposals for regulating air operations (which has previously come under Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities) to include dedicated sections for different types of operation. This should prove good news for business aviation, which has expressed concern that it could be subjected to excessively onerous requirements designed for much larger airline operations.

The EASA also has agreed to a phased publication of its proposals, giving priority to flight crew licensing and commercial air transport (CAT). The CAT proposal will contain specific provisions for flight duty and rest time limitations based on the existing European Commission regulation 1899/2006 (EU-OPS Subpart Q), as well as operational experience and current research. It also will take into account initiatives by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the area of fatigue risk management systems.

Essentially the EASA is granting a transition period of one to two years to give European Union member states and the industry more time to adapt to the new rules. The agency is also committed to a streamlined comment review process that highlights the changes in the regulatory text and guidance material.

For air operations, flight crew licensing and oversight of non-European operations, the EASA will now publish its final regulations by mid-2011 with a view to adopting the resulting regulations beginning in April 2012. Rules covering air traffic management and airports will be adopted by the end of 2012 and 2013, respectively.