Safety agency faces significant shake-up in 2007 as consultants say income from fees and charges is insufficient

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is to be given access to European Union funds as a stopgap to help plug a forecast €15 million ($18 million) shortfall in 2006 certification revenues before a more major shake-up next year.

Aircraft manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic last month reacted angrily to the fledgling agency’s warning that it may have to impose fourfold increases in the hourly rate charged for certification work, with accompanying significant increases in fixed fees to shore up its finances.

EASA, set up in June 2005, held urgent talks with the European Commission, EU member states and industry on its fees and charges structure. At the latest meeting of EASA chiefs on 16 March, the agency reported that “consensus” had been achieved.

Board members acknowledged a report by consultants Deloitte confirming that the agency’s income from fees and charges is too low, says EASA. It adds: “Short-term changes shall be made over the coming months while a full revision shall take effect from early close consultation with industry.”

The EC has offered its “full support”, including the possibility of financial backing, says EASA.

The agency says its proposals have been backed by the national aviation authorities (NAA) and that the agreed changes mean that EASA will continue to recruit experts from NAAs and industry, gradually taking over the bulk of certification activities from the NAAs.

The Society of British Aerospace Companies, which has been especially vocal in its criticism of the original “unaffordable” fees structure, welcomes the EC offer of financial help. However, it says that as the report by Deloitte has still to be made available to industry, “EASA’s belief that its point of view has been accepted would therefore seem to be premature”.


Source: Flight International