US aviation agency refuses to disclose all details of its audit of European counterpart

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is to review its standardisation procedures in the wake of criticism from its US counterpart about the lack of sanctions for underperforming member states.

The Federal Aviation Administration completed an audit of the new European airworthiness body earlier this month at its new headquarters in Cologne and gave its core activities of certification and rulemaking a good report, but made its concerns over standardisation formal. The FAA confirms that "there are issues to be worked", but refuses to disclose detail.

EASA has not yet got common rules for inspection of facilities and will have few means to enforce infringements even once such common inspection rules are adopted. EASA would have to ask the European Commission to take an individual national government to the European Court of Justice for breaching treaty obligations, a process that could take around two years.

By contrast, the FAA, as a US federal agency, has power to enforce infringements of its common standards. However, the FAA had previously approved the methods used by the Joint Aviation Authorities, which similarly relied on national law enforcement agencies to censure transgressions, EASA says.

EASA may request additional powers from the European Commission to enforce common standards, once rules are drawn up, but the agency admits that, as Europe is not a federal state, finding a legal framework for such powers will be "challenging".

EASA will also conduct a formal audit of the FAA, but says it is not an urgent requirement, as "we have changed a lot of things, the FAA is as it always was".


Source: Flight International