Following broad consultation with national aviation authorities, EASA has published proposals for a more flexible and responsive way of managing safety oversight in Europe.

When national aviation authorities lack resources or expertise, for example, they should be able to delegate some of their oversight functions to other authorities or to EASA, says the agency. The proposal goes further, suggesting that, on a voluntary basis, member states could decide that their state aircraft (excluding the military fleet) can be overseen by EASA. At present these aircraft, in some member states, are in a kind of limbo, overseen by neither the military nor the civil aviation authority, or carrying out civil tasks while overseen by the military.

The proposals also include the extension of the agency’s scope for safety oversight intervention in new domains, such as airport ground handling, remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or drones) and security, so as to cover all aviation safety areas. Executive director Patrick Ky says that airport ground handling is the part of aviation in which there are more accidents and incidents than any other phase in the cruise-to-cruise flight cycle. He also observed recently, talking to Flightglobal, that the only area in which EASA’s resources may become challenged is the safety oversight of RPAS.

Ky explained the reasons for the new proposals, published as an EASA Opinion: “EASA – that means the agency and its sister national authorities – needs to be prepared for the challenges ahead. With these changes, we will be more proportional, flexible and proactive to increase the level of safety in European aviation.”

The opinion is to be sent to the European Commission, which will use it as one of its expert inputs while it works on amending the agency’s current Basic Regulation, planned before the end of 2015.