European agency's proposal for rules on general aviation operations come under fire

The US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has voiced its concern over a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) proposal to make general aviation operations self-regulating or for them to remain nationally controlled. EASA has issued an advanced notice of proposed amendment (NPA 2/2004) that solicits industry responses on whether general aviation operations, including corporate and fractional ownership flights, should be "subject to Community legislation".

At present EASA - an agency that has been operational for less than a year and so far regulates only airworthiness and maintenance - is in the early stages of framing its operations legislation for all civil aviation sectors. As part of the consultation process it is testing opinion on which sectors of the industry, and which personnel licensing issues, might be excluded from direct EASA regulation, and as regards GA operations it asks:

* "do stakeholders agree that all non-commercial operations should be subject to Community legislation?

* "if not, should corporate aviation and/or recreational aviation be excluded?

* "would the answer be dependent on the type of aircraft? If so, what should be the threshold?"

The NPA asks similar questions about fractional ownership operations and unmanned air vehicles, and whether pilots of light recreational or sport aircraft should be required to hold "an official licence". The proposed alternative, according to the NPA, might be for EASA to implement rules for the accreditation by national authorities of "qualified bodies" that would carry out the day-to-day administration and regulation of sector standards and licensing.

GAMA says it wants European GA, for safety reasons, to be fully regulated by "a central agency" - EASA - including personnel licensing, along the lines of the US Federal Aviation Administration's GA regulatory system.

The association's senior vice-president of operations Ron Swanda calls for the agency to be centrally regulated; to have a centralised GA accident prevention strategy; to have a single GA accident investigation body; to organise a system for surveying European GA activity; and to run a system for pan-European GA accident data and trend analysis.

Swanda says: "Without a uniform set of operating regulations for GA, members of the European Union could find that inter-state and international commerce is hindered and that safety oversight is not uniformly applied."



Source: Flight International