European and US aviation authorities are looking for ways of carrying out their statutory safety oversight duties on lower budgets, which they agree is essential now and for the foreseeable future.
Speaking during a panel debate at the recent EASA/FAA annual joint conference in Paris, EASA executive director Patrick Goudou and the FAA's associate administrator for aviation safety John Hickey agreed they will have to delegate more tasks and cut out duplication of effort, while accepting that existing legal requirements may make this impossible.
Hickey says he sees airline safety management systems (SMS) as being an acceptable delegation of safety monitoring to those airlines which are capable of running one properly. Such carriers would need less frequent inspection than those not running an SMS or observed to be incompetent at it. As he put it: "Inspect where the high risk is."
Data-sharing is another key to identifying where risk exists, therefore where resources need to be applied, says Hickey. Controversially for the USA, he admits that regulation might have to move to being a fees and charges system like EASA, especially under the sequestration regime currently in force for US government agencies.
Hickey cites an example of wanton duplication of effort: the requirement to audit overseas airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies. Even if an MRO, for example, has just been audited by EASA, US law requires that the FAA audit it separately if it wants to bid for US airline business. The same requirement applies to other national aviation authorities, which means some companies bidding for international work undergo about 80 audits a year for precisely the same purpose.
Hickey proposes this could be achieved legally by sending a multinational team composed of representatives of all the NAAs that require an audit to be carried out, and Goudou confirms that he would be in favour of such a system if a standard multinational audit requirement for MROs could be agreed.