On Wednesday 2nd March EASA hosted the joint EASA / EBAA Workshop on Part-NCC implementation. The event was oversubscribed with 180 delegates from industry and the national aviation authorities attending. Introducing the workshop Eduard Coifu, EASA Section Manager for Air Operations Regulation, said that the relationship between industry and regulators was important and that he sees this relationship evolving into a safety partnership.
Mr Coifu provided an overview of the new requirements highlighting that corporate operators, fractional ownership schemes, and individual aircraft owners would all be affected. He pointed out that the new rules bring Europe into line with international standards, specifically part II of ICAO Annex 6, but that there are some differences from the ICAO standard. The new rules implement management system requirements for non-commercial operators as well as operating rules, but there is significant flexibility within the rules for each operator to develop a management system matched to the nature and complexity of a specific operation. As many of the detailed requirements are implemented via ‘Acceptable Means of Compliance’ (AMC) it is possible for individual operators to adopt ‘Alternative Means of Compliance’ provided that the safety objective of the underlying rule is met.
Concerns with the new requirements
Speakers from industry highlighted some concerns with the new regulatory regime. There are (apparently) 1185 new rules and 1190 new AMC applicable to non-commercial operators of ‘complex motor-powered aircraft’ (CMPA). One speaker recommended that an individual should not assume the role of operator, but that this should be delegated to a ‘legal entity’ such as a ‘special purpose company’ aero-club or management company. There was also a concern that national authorities do not have the tools to prosecute operators that flout the rules, particularly those that conduct commercial air transport without holding an Air Operators Certificate.
Aircraft registered in ‘third countries’
An issue raised during the workshop was the status of operators established in the Member States but operating aircraft registered in ‘third countries’. The regulations permit this but require the European Authorities to oversee these operators and to either accept specific approvals issued by the state of registry or to issue such approvals themselves. This goes beyond the ICAO standard that such responsibility sits with the State of registry. Willy Sigl, EASA Regulations Officer, explained that this is a requirement of the ‘Basic Regulation’ because a political decision had been made that operations within the European States should be subject to European rules. A presentation by Len Cormier of the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation highlighted that some ‘offshore’ registries, such as Bermuda, already have mature regulatory regimes for non-commercial operators and are ready to cooperate and share information with their European counterparts.
A good example
Juregen Weisse, Head of BMW flight service provided a useful explanation of how BMW had already implemented the requirements of the new rules. This had been a long process that had been underway for more than 10 years. He recommended that operators that had not yet started the process of adapting their organisations to the new requirements may need to engage external assistance, due to the tight timescale (less than 6 months). Another speaker asked for clarity on the regulations applicable to an AOC holder that also managed private operations on behalf on an aircraft owner, Willy Sigl clarified that the there is nothing in the regulations to prevent a single operator conducting commercial air transport and non-commercial operations.
After (an excellent) lunch speakers from EASA presented the regulations relating to specific approvals, continuing airworthiness management and pilot training.
Sonnie Bates of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) presented some information about that organisation and the IS-BAO programme. IBAC have produced a generic operations manual that can be tailored by individual operators. They have also developed a ‘gap analysis checklist’ that presents the differences between IS-BAO standards and European requirements. This could be useful for operators who are already complaint with IS-BAO standards to identify the work needed to comply with the new requirements.
Concluding the workshop Eduard Coifu acknowledged the issues created where European operators have aircraft registered in non-European states and reiterated that operators can avoid duplication of oversight or the need to comply with multiple standards by registering their aircraft within the EASA States. He added that EASA were keen to take on board the feedback from the workshop and that compliance will not be difficult for operators that are already complaint with ICAO standards.
The image of the Hyatt Hotel and Cologne Triangle © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)