Bulgaria has been excluded from joining Europe's internal aviation market despite its European Union accession this month after failing to improve shortcomings identified in the oversight capabilities of its civil aviation administration.

The European Commission (EC) says that, following a recent inspection performed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), it considers there is a "considerable risk" Bulgaria will not be able to ensure full compliance with EU rules on aviation safety. It has consequently invoked a safeguard clause against Bulgaria.

EC transport chief Jacques Barrot says: "As things stand, we are not satisfied that Bulgaria meets the required standard."

The EC says the deficiencies EASA has identified "concern important shortcomings in the administrative capacity of the Bulgarian civil aviation authority in the field of safety oversight in general, and for the certification of airworthiness and maintenance of aircraft. The number of CAA staff is insufficient and their level of training is generally inadequate to perform their duties at the required level".

Bulgaria will remain excluded from full integration in the internal aviation market until EASA judges the safety situation in Bulgaria to be satisfactory.

In practice, this means airworthiness and maintenance certification issued by the Bulgarian CAA will not be automatically recognised by EU member states, and Bulgarian carriers will not be granted unrestricted access on EU routes. They will still be able to serve EU countries, as they currently do, as a third-country operator.

Source: Flight International