Jan. 29, 2016

Operators to Europe should be aware that the third-country operator (TCO) requirement is in effect, as of Nov. 26, NBAA officials advised.

The European Commission, in 2014, adopted a regulation that requires commercial air transport (CAT) operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known as TCOs, to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU.

CAT TCOs are required to demonstrate to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including implementation of a safety management system (SMS). EASA allowed a multi-year transition period to accept and process applications, and that transition period ended on Nov. 26.

“Hopefully operators subject to the TCO authorization have already submitted applications,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “It’s also important to understand that only EASA can determine if an operator’s SMS and other compliance requirements are acceptable to the agency. The FAA has no input on either the means or the programs used to demonstrate compliance with the TCO requirements.”

Any non-European commercial operator with either a pending TCO application or a current TCO authorization, and with only an ICAO Phase 1 SMS, will be issued a level 1 finding by EASA and given two weeks to achieve an ICAO Phase 2 SMS. Operators that do not achieve Phase 2 will be refused a TCO authorization or have an existing authorization suspended, as applicable.

Any TCO that applied for authorization before Nov. 26, and has a Phase 2 SMS, will receive a level 2 finding and have four weeks to develop and obtain from EASA formal acceptance of a correction action plan aimed at achieving SMS Phase 3 by Dec. 31, 2017.

EASA has repeatedly expressed support for the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) as a means of demonstrating compliance with elements of Part TCO. Operators with at least a Stage 1 IS-BAO registration have demonstrated a Phase 4 SMS.

Operators unable to demonstrate level 3 SMS by December 2017 will have their TCO authorizations suspended.

The TCO authorization is required for all CAT TCO operators, including U.S.-certificated Part 135 operators, flying to the 28 European Union countries, EU overseas territories (including Gibraltar, Aland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint Martin and Mayotte) and the four European Free Trade Association states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

The authorization will be a pre-requisite to operating in these states and territories. A TCO authorization is not required for operators only overflying these areas without intending to land.