Doubts voiced over vision to extend agency’s responsibilities to air traffic management and aerodrome safety

European aviation regulators, airspace authorities and carriers have reacted sceptically to suggestions that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) should take a role in certification of air traffic management safety at airports.

In a consultation paper centred on airport safety and efficiency, the European Commission – which is proposing to extend EASA’s remit to the airport domain – asked whether the European Union should move towards airport safety certification and whether EASA should be given a role in such a certification process.

But the general opinion has been cautious. The UK Civil Aviation Authority believes EASA is not ready for such a task, stating: “Any proposals to extend EASA’s future remit to include air traffic management and aerodrome safety should not be contemplated until the significant and fundamental issues EASA faces currently have been addressed fully to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.” It says that the EU should move towards airport safety certification “eventually”, with EASA setting requirements and policy while member states provide standardised regulation.

UK air traffic management provider National Air Traffic Services adds: “It would be possible for EASA to take on the role of certification of airports, but this does raise serious questions about how this function could be properly resourced so that EASA would have the necessary competence for this role.”

The Finnish civil aviation administration says that there is “no urgent need” for a shift to airport safety certification, while its Belgian counterpart says that member states should be primarily responsible for certification, and should only delegate the task to EASA if necessary.

German airports association ADV says that airport certification would be “superfluous” and that EASA would increase bureaucracy. It says: “Guaranteeing the safety of air traffic is the central objective of International Civil Aviation Organisation rules and regulations. Precisely in relation to safety at airports there is a straight instruction line from ICAO to the contracting country and from its airport authority to airport operators.

“The involvement of EASA would interfere and unnecessarily prolong established processes for obtaining licences for site developments or operations from the states’ competent regulators. Clear authority and responsibility so far would be challenged or even dissolved.”

Swedish civil aviation authority Luftfartsstyrelsen warns that airports are individual and complex, and adds that airport certification is “not a one-time event”. National provisions, it says, “preclude” anything other than national management of certification. Norway’s ministry of transport envisages a role for EASA in the rulemaking process, but it says that participation in the certification of individual airports is “open for discussion” and feels it “more appropriate” that certification is left to national authorities.

Representatives of the European Regions Airline Association say that EASA should “first demonstrate its expertise” in operational areas before expanding its remit further, while the Association of European Airlines says: “A common European safety certification would be very useful, but the regulations already in place in Europe should be monitored to start with.”


Source: Flight International