EASA has recently completed its review of industry comments on the controversial subject of commercial single-engine turbine operations in instrument meteorological conditions (CAT SET-IMC), and expects to publish its Final Opinion “in the third quarter” of this year for rulemaking by the European Commission in 2016.
The subject attracted about 150 comments, the majority of which were in favour of CAT SET-IMC, but traditionally conservative states such as Germany and the UK continue to express outright opposition or scepticism.
The objections are based on two main premises: the passengers cannot be guaranteed a safe forced landing in IMC or at night in the event of the single engine failing; and a forced landing in highly populous areas such as the UK’s southeast risks casualties on the ground.
The arguments in favour are based on the aircraft providing equivalent or better safety than permitted CAT IMC operations by twin piston-engine aircraft, especially among single-turbine aircraft equipped with advanced satellite navigation combined with a terrain database and with boosted standby electrical power.
This rulemaking has been in demand for more than 15 years, and now there are 12 aircraft carrying out commercial SET-IMC operations in Europe under exemptions agreed by the individual countries. If it goes ahead, operators will have to obtain special authorisation.