New European rules on flight crew licensing (FCL) could undermine business aircraft operators who depend on being able to use pilots trained in the U.S., according to the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). The group has protested the final FCL proposals from the European Aviation Safety Agency ahead of a final European Commission (EC) vote on the issue, which has been pushed back until some time this month due to disagreement among officials over the issue.
The EC itself has indicated that it cannot accept EASA’s draft rules, which are intended to create a single European pilot’s license, on the grounds that they would abandon the long-standing agreement whereby Europe and the U.S. recognize each other’s FCL structures. EBAA has joined NBAA and the International Business Aviation Council to persuade EC officials that it would be impractical, and contrary to sound safety practice, for Europe to stop accepting U.S. licenses.
The final draft of the new European FCL rules makes no provision for operators to conduct initial, revalidation and renewal of type ratings outside the 27 European Union states. According to EBAA, about 4,000 such checks are conducted each year and many of these are done by examiners outside the EU who hold ICAO licenses and approvals from individual EU member states.
Existing business aircraft training capacity in Europe is simply insufficient to meet the training needs of all European aircrew. European operators, along with those from other parts of the world, routinely send pilots to North America for training. EBAA has argued that by creating what would essentially be an artificial shortage of training capacity, the proposed EASA rules could actually compromise safety.
It is this uncertainty that led to an October 14 meeting between EC officials and EU member state representatives being adjourned with a recommendation to postpone the final vote until this month. Part FCL is supposed to go into law in April 2012.