Agency may respond to damning UK parliamentary report by easing second-language requirement and boosting pay

The European Aviation Safety Agency could be about to resolve its recruitment woes by lifting its second-language requirement and increasing pay in a hiring drive being targeted at senior UK aviation regulators.

The move comes in the wake of a damning report by the UK parliamentary committee on how the Civil Aviation Authority embarks on further structural reforms in transferring responsibilities to the Cologne-based safety agency.

Branding EASA "an accident waiting to happen", MPs said that left unchecked, EASA's stretched resources could compromise safety and warned that the agency should prove itself capable before assuming further responsibilities.

Meanwhile, an Austrian member of the European Parliament, Jorg Leichtfried, is proposing a change to European legislation governing the agency's internal rules to allow EASA recruiters to waive a second-language requirement.

Liechtfried, who will table his report on 23 November, says that because EASA staff are EU officials, they are required to have a command of at least two foreign languages even though English is the language spoken by the industry.

An industry source told Flight International: "English is the international language of aviation and it is well known that EASA would like to employ more UK nationals, although many don't speak a foreign language."

The MEP also says EU salaries are not always competitive enough to convince potential senior staff to move or change their job and he urges EASA and the European Commission to tackle the problem "with the necessary creativity".

EASA, which dismisses the UK report as "outdated", says it employs 33 UK staff - around 10% of the 300 total - mostly ex-CAA staff in management posts.

"More are expected to join in the coming months and we are satisfied to see UK experts are recognising that EASA is consolidating its position as the central EU regulator for aviation safety."

Regarding the proposed legislative change, EASA says it "would welcome any measure that would facilitate the recruitment of aviation experts".

EASA staff levels are expected to rise to more than 400 in 2007, and further staff growth is required as its remit extends to rulemaking and standardisation in operations and pilot licensing.

The UK parliamentary committee said EASA's operational difficulties meant a "knowledge gap" was developing and it called on the UK government to press the EC to find a remedy.

Source: Flight International