New EASA requirements for the qualification of Flight Operations Inspectors.

There is a common regulation for ‘Air Operations’ across the 32 ‘EASA States’. This regulation applies to aircraft operators and also to the ‘Competent Authorities’ (or Civil Aviation Authorities, CAAs) who are responsible for the certification and oversight of operators. Annex II (Part-ARO) describes what these CAAs need to do and how they should do it, but there is still a wide variation in how different Authorities apply these requirements. One controversial topic is the qualification requirements for Flight Operations Inspectors (FOIs). Some States require all FOIs to have extensive experience as airline Captains and managers whereas in other states most oversight tasks are conducted by inspectors who may not have experience as a pilot, but who have been specifically trained for the inspector role.

Performance Based Requirements

EASA have been working on harmonised requirements for inspectors since 2013. A detailed proposal was presented to the Member States in 2015 but it was rejected by the various CAAs who found it too prescriptive. A new proposal was then developed and published as AMC in March 2017. The new requirements allow a ‘performance-based’ approach where each CAA should determine the qualification requirements for each inspector based on the specific tasks that s/he will be required to perform. In order to do this the NAA needs to define the ‘competencies’ required for each task and the related minimum qualification requirements for that task. A training programme (initial and recurrent) is then developed to ensure that inspectors have the necessary competence.

Competencies

Developing the list of competencies and the related training programmes is a complex and time-consuming task. ICAO Document 9868 describes a framework for the development of competency-based training and assessment for aviation personnel which can be applied. The advantage of adopting this framework is that ‘performance standards’ can be developed for the various inspecting tasks so that inspectors can be assessed and ‘standardised’ against a common standard.

McKechnie Aviation have been working with the CAA of an EASA State to develop a competency framework for Inspectors in both Flight Operations and Aircrew. This work is enabling the CAA to implement a modular training programme that will significantly reduce the time taken for new recruits to start doing useful work and will also tie into the performance management process to give managers a clear view of the capabilities and training needs of the inspectorate.

Pilot tasks.

There are specific additional requirements for certain tasks that need to be conducted by a qualified pilot. These are the approval of aircraft operating procedures, flight crew training programmes and conduct of ‘flight inspections’. Inspectors assigned these tasks will need to hold (or have held) the relevant pilot’s licence and type rating. Where an Authority does not have suitably qualified inspectors ‘in-house’ there is the opportunity to bring in external expertise.

How can we help?

For more information about how McKechnie Aviation work with Civil Aviation Authorities please get in touch.