AIN has compiled a summary of upcoming EASA regulations to help business aircraft operators, manufacturers, and others prepare for what is coming down the road. These future regulations include rotorcraft safety and certification, fuel tankering, tire pressure minimums, helicopter ditching, and remote air traffic control towers.
Rotorcraft Safety Update
A Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) was published recently to address three safety recommendations stemming from the investigation of an accident involving an Airbus Helicopters EC225LP on April 29, 2016, in Norway. All 13 aboard perished in the crash. The accident was a result of a fatigue fracture in a second-stage planet gear in the epicyclic module of the main rotor gearbox. Cracks initiated from a micro-pit at the surface and developed subsurface to a catastrophic failure without being detected.
The NPA would establish requirements to improve existing provisions and procedures applicable to critical parts on helicopters to ensure that design assumptions are valid throughout their service life; amend the acceptable means of compliance to certification specifications (CS) for large rotorcraft (CS-29) to highlight the importance of different modes of component structural degradation and how these can affect crack initiation and propagation and ultimately fatigue life; and by amending corresponding CSs with regard to the instructions for continued airworthiness for critical parts on helicopters to maintain their design integrity after being subject to any unusual event.
Included in the NPA is a regulatory update that would harmonize CS-27 and CS-29 with the equivalent FAA regulations, thus reducing the certification validation effort and reflecting the state-of-the-art for small and large rotorcraft certification, thus modernizing the existing requirements and bringing them in line with current best practices. The proposed amendments are expected to improve safety, have no social or environmental impacts, and provide economic benefits by streamlining the certification and validation processes.
Reduced Fuel Loads
New rules published last month permit operators to reduce the amount of contingency fuel carried, with the intent of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the overall environmental impact. While the rules recognize that extra fuel needs to be carried to account for unexpected situations that delay or prevent landing at the original destination, EASA said, “The amount of additional fuel required can be optimized, while continuing to ensure high safety levels, due to improved risk assessment, calculations based on better data and better decision making.” The new requirements are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 31, 2022, and are applicable to airline and business turbine airplanes with mtows of more than 12,500 pounds.
The new rules bring in three different fuel schemes: basic fuel scheme, fuel scheme with variations, and individual fuel scheme. The transition from the current rules to the basic fuel scheme requires little additional effort from the perspective of an air operator, EASA said. The other two schemes are voluntary and will take more resources to implement as those require enhanced monitoring capabilities from operators. National authorities will also have to adjust their oversight to ensure that safety levels are not compromised. The methods will also apply to aircraft powered fully or partially by alternative energy sources, such as electric aircraft.
Tire Pressure and Heli Ditching Rules
By the end of the third quarter of this year, EASA is expected to adopt new regulations on tire pressure minimums and helicopter ditching survivability. EASA said it considered the comments submitted when the mandates were in the proposed stages in 2020 and 2021, so the new rules will be adopted essentially as proposed.
Large airplane certification rules (Part CS-25) will be amended to provide a means to ensure that no tire is below its minimum serviceable inflation pressure during operation. This can be achieved either by requiring operators to perform tire pressure checks at suitable time intervals or by installing a tire pressure monitoring system that alerts the flight crew when a tire is at an unsafe pressure.
Improving the ability of occupants to survive a water impact from a helicopter ditching is the objective of rules that will revise type certification standards for both small rotorcraft (Part CS-27) and large rotorcraft (Part CS-29) by requiring several design improvements. In addition, this NPA also proposes enhancements to certification specifications for new ditching and emergency flotation provisions.
European ADS-B Out Mandate
By June 7, 2023, all applicable aircraft will have to be in compliance with ADS-B Out requirements in Europe. Under the phased-in schedule, the requirement deadline was Dec. 7, 2020, for aircraft receiving their certificate of airworthiness (C of A) on or after that date. Aircraft that obtained their C of A between June 6, 1995, and Dec. 7, 2020, must arrange for retrofits to meet the ADS-B Out mandate by June 7, 2023. ADS-B Out requirements apply only to aircraft with an mtow exceeding 5,700 kg (12,566 pounds) or having a maximum cruising true airspeed capability greater than 250 knots. Aircraft with a C of A dated before June 6, 1995, are exempt from European ADS-B requirements.
Remote Airport ATS
This NPA addresses the evolving technological, procedural, and operational aspects of so-called "remote airport air traffic services," with the aim of facilitating its safe and uniform implementation by EASA member states and promoting the development and deployment of new digital technologies. Remote provision of air traffic services, referred to as digital towers, enables air traffic services from airports where direct visual observation of all movement areas is not available. Instead, the view of the entire airport is enabled through digital technology. Comments on the NPA are due Aug. 8, 2022.