January 23, 2013

In a move that could change the way crew rest is regulated in the European Union, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has invited NBAA to take part in the formulation of new rules that would, for the first time, differentiate rest requirements for charter operators from those that cover scheduled air carriers.

Right now, EASA regulations on crew rest have a one-size-fits-all flavor, said NBAA Vice President for Safety, Security, Operations & Regulation Doug Carr. They make no allowances for the very different nature of the on-demand charter business when compared to scheduled airline operations.

“This working group is the result of industry pressure on EASA to develop flight and rest limits that reflect the business that they regulate,” he said. “As a result of being a participant in this group, I’m walking away from our first meeting encouraged that EASA has come to recognize that one size does not fit all – especially on this topic of rest regulation.”

Carr is one of 10 people in the working group, which has been created to tackle the issue of creating crew-rest regulations for European on-demand operators between now and the end of October. He praised the experience level of his colleagues in the group who are, like Carr himself, industry veterans.

The task of collaborating with government officials on the development of crew rest regulations is not new to Carr and NBAA. In 2005, the Association weighed in on the formulation of recommendations on the topic for FAA. However, more than seven years later, that effort has not yet yielded results.

“FAA doesn’t see a difference on this issue between pilots flying in a scheduled environment and those flying in a non-scheduled environment, which, to us, is very disappointing,” Carr said. “We spent thousands of hours working cooperatively with the agency to develop pretty advanced concepts regarding flight and duty times for Part 135 crews. All have gone unanswered.”

However, Carr said he is much more optimistic about the prospects of creating in Europe crew-rest regulations that will specifically address the charter industry.

“Here we are now with an opportunity to address similar issues with EASA and they seem very willing to consider them. We’re not talking about turning the industry on its ear, but on identifying elements that are unique to on-demand charter. For instance, if I don’t know whether I’ll need to make a trip tomorrow, how do I make sure I get a rested crew?” he explained.

Carr predicted the working group would be able to present its proposals to EASA sometime between 2015 and 2016.

“In the end, we hope to pull away from the political and social end of this discussion and create very scientifically-based regulations that reflect the unique nature of on-demand charter,” said Carr. “I think we’re going to make quick progress on formulating our recommendations and delivering them to EASA.”

Carr said it would be interesting to see which agency publishes crew rest regulations for the on-demand charter industry first – EASA or FAA.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s EASA,” he said.