Personnel Requirements for CAT Operators

What are the requirements for managers in commercial air transport?

The air operations regulation requires commercial air transport (CAT) operators to have certain specific management posts in order to hold an air operators certificate (AOC). First of all there must be an Accountable Manager:

The Accountable Manager

The accountable manager has overall responsibility for safety and must have the authority to ensure that all activities “can be financed and carried out in accordance with the applicable requirements”. The accountable manager of an operator is usually the Chief Executive of the company (or equivalent). The accountable manager doesn’t need to be an expert in air operations (it’s more important that he/she is an expert in management), but he/she will need to have a good understanding of aircraft operations and be reasonably familiar with ‘the applicable requirements’. Just as important is that the accountable manager has well qualified people to manage all of the safety critical aspects of the operation. These people are the ‘nominated persons’.

Nominated Persons

Under the previous regulation (EU-OPs) these guys were known as ‘nominated post holders’. The regulation requires that commercial air transport operators appoint ‘nominated persons’ for each of the following four areas of responsibility:

  • Flight operations
  • Crew training
  • Ground operations and
  • Continuing airworthiness.

In small or non-complex operations responsibilities can be combined, so there might be one ‘Chief Pilot’ responsible for flight operations and crew training. There is very little scope for the responsibilities to be split. This is only permitted within ground operations. There is nothing in the regulation about the qualifications required for the different posts (there is only guidance) so each operator should have the requirements for the different posts documented in the operations manual.

Other mandatory management posts

Apart from the accountable manager and the nominated persons there are no other management positions mandated in the ‘hard law’. If we look at the AMC then we find a requirement for a safety manager and a compliance monitoring manager.

Safety Manager

AMC requires an operator to appoint a safety manager. The safety manager is responsible for the administration of the safety management function but is not accountable for safety (that’s the accountable manager). There is nothing in either AMC or GM about the qualifications necessary to hold the position of safety manager.

Compliance Monitoring Manager

One of the fundamental management system requirements is a compliance monitoring function. The AMC requires an operator to appoint a compliance monitoring manager (this replaces the ‘quality manager’ required under EU-OPs). The AMC requires that the compliance monitoring manager should not be one of the ‘nominated persons’ and that he/she should have “relevant knowledge background and experience related to the activities of the operator including knowledge and experience in compliance monitoring”.

The role of the competent authority

The previous regulation (EU-OPS) required certain appointments to be approved or accepted by the competent authority. This has been replaced in the air operations regulation by a requirement for operators to have a change management process, and for certain changes to be approved in advance by the authority. Operators still need prior approval to appoint a new accountable manager or nominated person. Some operators may also be required to obtain prior approval for less senior management appointments.

Before approving a change the authority has to verify compliance with the applicable requirements, which means checking that the nominee meets the requirements of the post. For nominated persons this will always mean submitting a resume and probably attending an interview. As the regulations don’t contain detailed qualification requirements for the different posts it’s quite important that the operations manual does.

Flexibility provisions

If some aspect of the regulatory requirements presents a problem for an operator then there is the possibility of deviating from the published requirements.

the issue causing a problem is part of the implementing rule, i.e. the ’hard law’, then a deviation would only be possible if the operator were granted an exemption or derogation in accordance with article 14 of the basic regulation. This is unlikely to be successful, except perhaps as a short term solution to an unforeseen situation. This applies to the requirements for an accountable manager and for ‘nominated persons’.

If an operator needs to deviate from a published AMC then an application can be made for an alternative means of compliance (AltMoC). This could apply to the safety manager or compliance monitoring manager positions.

When it comes to the qualification requirements for the various posts there is only guidance available, so each operator can decide what qualifications managers should have, bearing in mind the requirement to demonstrate that all staff are ‘trained and competent to perform their tasks’.