Oct. 14, 2015

NBAA recently joined with the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) to address early signals that some business aircraft operators from outside the European Union (EU), termed “third-country operators” (TCOs), will be denied safety authorization by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to fly to, from or within the 28 EU states and other EU territories and trade areas.

Later this month, representatives with both associations will meet with EASA officials to discuss reports that some North American operators will have their applications for safety authorization denied.

“Canadian and U.S. operators face similar issues with EASA, albeit for different issues,” explained Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “Given the scope of these ongoing issues, we believe a joint effort will be helpful in addressing our concerns.”

All airlines and charter companies, including Part 135 operators in the U.S. and CAR704 ad hoc charter operators in Canada, are termed “commercial air transport” (CAT) operators by the EU. All such operators that fly to, or intend to fly to, Europe – even for fuel stops – are required to apply for TCO authorization to demonstrate compliance with EASA’s safety requirements.

To simplify the process, EASA last year implemented a unified standard for non-EU CAT operators to apply for a single EU-wide safety authorization. However, some NBAA and CBAA members have reported that EASA officials indicated they would deny those applications based on differences between EASA’s requirements and Canadian and U.S. regulations.

“EASA’s feedback to our members has indicated that their applications may not meet EASA’s standards due to their lack of a flight data-monitoring program,” said Carr. “The FAA does not yet require a flight data monitoring program for Part 135 operations.”

Noting the “tremendous respect” that both NBAA and CBAA have for EASA, CBAA President and CEO Rudy Toering said the aviation regulator should be lauded for its efforts to assess and mitigate risk to aviation operations throughout the EU.

“That said, our industry represents an extremely low-risk category, as a result of safety oriented regulations and a well-managed safety culture that already works very well in Canada and the USA,” Toering added. “There needs to be some sensible thinking to make sure we don’t unduly encumber the methods of operation of small commercial operators and possibly cascading down to private operations. If that happens, business aviation can no longer offer the flexibility it needs to be an effective business tool.”

In September, FAA officials signed agreements with Transport Canada and EASA to allow the authorities to rely on each other’s regulatory systems, a move that should provide further clarity on shared regulatory matters and eliminate duplicate processes. “We’re hopeful that our respective aviation safety agencies can leverage the high level of safety performance established by Canadian, US and European operators,” said Toering.

Initial applications for operators seeking TCO authorization were required by November 2014. Newly certificated operators are encouraged to apply 30 days prior to their first trip to the EU.