June 26, 2014

The European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) last month began accepting applications for its new third-country operator (TCO) authorization, which requires commercial air transport operators from outside the European Union (EU) to receive a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU. TCOs include any non-European Union registered commercial operators. The new requirement applies to all airlines and charter operations, including U.S. FAR Part 135 and other commercial operators.

EASA has reported numerous discrepancies in application submissions. In some cases, operators have been flying within Eurocontrol airspace as commercial operations, but cannot be tied to an actual air operator certificate. Operators need to ensure their applications are complete and accurate in order to avoid potential enforcement action in the future.

“Many U.S.-based operators don’t travel to Europe, and so they have not been focused on this new requirement,” said Peter Korns, NBAA operations specialist. “But the TCO authorization requirement also applies to European Union overseas territories such as Gibraltar, Aland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint-Martin, and Mayotte.”

Operators that currently fly to Europe have six months to apply for the TCO authorization. Following the Nov. 25, 2014 deadline, EASA will process all applications and confirm eligibility. “We encourage operators to apply early and not wait until the last minute to submit their information,” said Korns. “Non-compliance with authorization deadlines and requirements will result in delays and the risk of being denied access to European airspace.”

The application process is fairly simple. Each operator must complete an online application form on EASA’s website, then upload copies of their air operator certificate, operations specifications, certificate of incorporation or similar documentation, along with the airworthiness certificates of aircraft that will be flown into EU airspace. EASA will confirm the operator’s eligibility for the TCO authorization, then provide log-in credentials to a dedicated TCO website, which will be the primary method of communication between the operator and EASA during the approval process.

NBAA will host a webinar on July 30 with EASA representatives to discuss the TCO application process and address any questions or concerns from operators. Additionally, EASA will host a workshop in Cologne, Germany, on Sept. 18 for operators needing additional assistance.

“EASA has been very transparent about the new authorization requirement and has published detailed information about the application process and what operators should expect,” said Korns. “So far, operator feedback indicates it is a relatively simple process.”