Europe should threaten to place restrictions on foreign carriers, says AEA, to force USA to reform resented rules

The new European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is being urged to impose additional operational requirements on foreign carriers unless similar US rules are eased.

EASA's power over operational and licensing issues is being reviewed, and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) is asking the European Commission to insert a foreign operators' clause, mirroring the US Part 129 rules.

AEA manager for operations and air traffic management Vincent De Vroey says the threat of such a measure is needed to get movement from the US Federal Aviation Administration on the long-resented Part 129 operations specifications (Ops Specs) rules. The AEA fired a broadside at the FAA and the US Department of Transportation over their "continued refusal to consider the cost and time implications of Ops Specs", at a European Union-USA aviation summit in early June.

The AEA accuses the FAA of deliberately erecting barriers to European carriers and breaching the spirit of the Chicago Convention on mutual recognition of airworthiness bodies. "The USA may have legitimate concerns about some territories' airworthiness inspections, but to impose the same bureaucratic system on somewhere like Europe, with an excellent safety record, is unjustified," he says. European Joint Aviation Authorities members currently recognise US air operator's certificates (AOC) with no additional requirements, although EASA is understood to be considering a Part 129 counterpart, to try to level the playing field.

European airlines have long lobbied for the abolition of Ops Specs, but the campaign has intensified recently over delays, thought by the AEA to be politically motivated, in issuing documents to carriers from countries opposed to the Iraq war.

The AEA believes its members could win an exemption, with EASA taking control of pan-European aircraft operation rules from 2006. In addition, talks start next month on creating an EU-US bilateral agreement on safety, which could include a mutual recognition of AOCs, says De Vroey.

The FAA says it has "taken note of the criticism" by the AEA and will "review its Part 129 AOC process".



Source: Flight International