Qinetiq to report before decision on night flying is made

European proposals to allow commercial single-engine operation at night and in instrument meteorological conditions (SEIMC) are to be scrutinised by UK research company Qinetiq before rulemaking by the European Aviation Safety Agency. If Qinetiq's report, commissioned by EASA, succeeds in resolving the differences that have held up this controversial rule for years, a ruling on SEIMC could become law as early as the end of next year.

EASA wanted an independent review of issues covered in a Joint Aviation Authorities report on SEIMC, which has taken a decade to compile and the contents of which have created controversy among European national aviation authorities. Official comments by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and other national agencies that the existing report is "unbalanced and incomplete" have prompted the EASA decision.

Bob Crowe, head of his own UK-based company that distributes one of the affected aircraft types - the Cessna Caravan series - and also a member of the JAA SEIMC Working Group, says he is pleased Qinetiq has been given the task of reviewing the safety data on single-engine turboprop operations. He says he believes EASA has recognised that the existing JAA SEIMC rulings were compiled, effectively, by two lobbying groups: the reluctant national aviation authorities - particularly the UK CAA and the Italian agency ENAC - on one side, and the aircraft manufacturers and distributors on the other.

In July next year EASA takes on its additional operations regulatory role, but it already has staff working on operations issues to prepare for that date. Qinetiq has been given until the end of September to produce its SEIMC report.

Crowe says that since the subject has already been submitted for consultation over such a long period, his best guess is that when EASA is ready with its notice of proposed rulemaking it will be put up for comment for a relatively short period like three months. He says he thinks an EASA rule on SEIMC could be on the books by the last quarter of 2008.

Source: Flight International