European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards will predominate in the UAE’s efforts to develop a workable framework for the oversight of business aviation, which it hopes will serve as a model for the rest of the region, a UAE aviation safety official said last month at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference in Riyadh.
One set of rules currently governs all types of aviation in the UAE, but business aviation sometimes presents a special case and must comply with rules that are not necessarily applicable to it.
“What we need is a workable [set of regulations] and for that we have applied the EASA system. We are a small country. We don’t have the resources for the R&D and to decide what are the limitations. If we adopt [EASA’s] regulations, we will put our industry on an equivalent playing field, in terms of access to the market, and [allow for] the flow of qualified personnel to the UAE market,” Ismaeil Al Blooshi, assistant director general for aviation safety affairs with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), told AIN.
On the subject of rules that do not take into consideration the specific case of business aviation, Al Blooshi raised the issue of crew standby as an example. “When a crew is on standby with a scheduled operator, this is considered part of their duty timing…In a private operation, [however,] the pilot is continuously supposed to be on standby, because he does not work to a fixed schedule. The model does not necessarily fit them. I know this is a challenge for everyone.” The GCAA is working with the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) to find a means to address the issue.
In addition, the UAE is considering different systems to benefit from experience in the industry, Al Blooshi said. Airworthiness, flight operations and personnel licensing were based on the European system, which was undergoing a major [overhaul]. “Obviously there are existing industries in Europe. A set of regulations has been out there for almost two years now. It has reached a level of maturity.
“We also have our own industry, an entire industry, not just business jets. We are not going to take the European regulations off the shelf and ask the industry to comply with them. We have to look at the impact. It will take some time,” he said. “We are waiting for this to be implemented, used, which will remove the teething problems you always have with anything new. We want to make sure that it has reached a level of maturity where we can adapt it. We will adapt the European regulations to what suits the industry.”
He said the UAE regulations would not suddenly change in a turn-key solution on a certain date. “We will gradually implement the regulations across the board. We will start with business aviation. The new European regulations are a modular structure. I think this will fix most of the challenges we see today.”
Asked if the GCAA’s goal is to be the preeminent civil aviation authority in the region, Al Blooshi said safety knowledge needs to be shared because development of aviation safety is in the interests of all nations. The UAE is therefore working with neighboring countries and external regions to exchange knowledge and information.
“We have in the past provided, and will continue to provide, support to the GCC and [other] neighboring countries. [In the past two years] we provided training to other states. Our objective is not to be the leader. Our objective is to drive everybody to develop standards, and if we can learn from someone else we are more than happy to do that.”