Authorities argue agency is not ready for expansion

The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) schedule for taking over industry-wide responsibility for safety rulemaking and standardisation is threatened with delay as national governments scrutinise the organisation’s progress.

EASA has a provisional timetable for extending its powers beyond its current airworthiness role into flightcrew licensing and operations, and the European Commission has started the process to extend its remit even further, to incorporate safety rulemaking and oversight for air traffic management and, eventually, airports. However, several national aviation authorities (NAA) are voicing reservations about the plan because EASA is encountering logistical problems fulfilling its current role.

Sir Roy McNulty, chairman of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, says: “There is a view, not necessarily yet that of the UK, that the EC should delay EASA’s extension to licensing and operations, so that EASA can digest properly what it has before taking on the next tranche of responsibilities.” He adds that he would be “delighted if I knew there were a world-class safety agency in place in Cologne; instead I see an organisation tripping itself up over problems of process, resources and bureaucracy”.

Many in the NAAs believe the process towards full control is an attempt to mirror the US Federal Aviation Administration, and is being partially driven by the US agency’s desire to have a direct counterpart. “The ideal situation would be to have a comparable body fully competent across all areas,” says Nick Sabatini, assistant administrator for aviation safety at the FAA.

Maxime Coffin, director of air safety at French airworthiness body DGAC, says EASA has focused mainly on writing its documents and establishing itself, but that attention needs to turn to implementation, which should be done hand-in-hand with the NAAs. Jules Kneepkens, civil aviation director at the Netherlands transport ministry, says: “We think it would be good to take a break and discuss timeframes. We’d like to know EASA is a solid building before we allow it to have more rooms.”


Additional reporting by David Learmount in Cologne


Source: Flight International