Europe will have a single, centralised safety authority by mid-2003, according to Joint Aviation Authorities executive director Klaus Koplin.

The European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) will have the legal power to override national laws in European Union countries. Meanwhile, starting next year, the JAA will be preparing the ground by "naming and shaming" those JAA countries which are slow to implement existing safety policies, Koplin warns.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have processed all but the final stages of the legislation making EASA a devolved agency of the European Commission, explained Koplin, speaking at the Flight Safety in Iceland Symposium, Reykjavik last week.

To make the process easier, EASA will only have powers in airworthiness and certification areas to start with, but Koplin sees the organisation taking control of operational standards "by the end of 2004", and licensing after that. The final goal is to centralise regulatory processes for airport and air traffic management standards in EASA, says Koplin, but that is a more distant objective because, unlike airworthiness and flight operations, it is an area in which the JAAs have not blazed the standardisation trail.

Next year's "naming-and-shaming" plan is being put into place, Koplin explains, because, though the JAA member nations agree that standardisation and final centralisation of safety regulation is desirable, "some people still think there is a French safety, a German safety, a British safety". National aviation authorities will still continue to exercise safety oversight and enforcement in their countries.

Source: Flight International