March 24, 2020

Brexit occurred at midnight on Jan. 31, 2020, when the UK formally left the European Union (EU), leaving a critical question: Will the UK remain an “associated country,” retaining membership in the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), or will it leave EASA and oversee aviation regulatory and safety matters itself?

Recently, the UK State Secretary for Transportation Grant Shapps addressed this crucial issue: The UK will leave EASA and assume responsibility for aircraft certification and safety regulation under its own Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA).

A document titled “The Future Relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations,” published in late February, outlines the UK’s intentions, saying a bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) between the UK and EU should be established. The BASA would minimize regulatory barriers and ensure regulatory cooperation between the two safety agencies. The UK recommends the BASA be broad enough in scope to cover areas ranging from design certification to personnel licensing and training.

The “Future Relationship” document also calls for a comprehensive air transport agreement to address traffic rights, ownership and control, aviation security and air traffic management, among other topics.

The current deadline for finalizing post-Brexit arrangements is Dec. 31, 2020; however, both parties have until July 1 to agree to extend the transition period by up to two years. In the meantime, the UK is considered a third country within EASA and aircraft certification, air traffic management, pilot licensing and other important regulatory issues remain unchanged, with EASA continuing to act as the primary oversight agency.

“NBAA will continue to work with regulators in UK and EASA to ensure business aviation’s continued success in both regions,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “The UK has a long history of aviation expertise and we expect a seamless transition from its partnership with EASA to its own CAA.”