By Aimée Turner at the Farnborough air show

Review pinpoints outsourcing for streamlining process

Some European national aviation authorities could lose their share of aircraft certification work if a forthcoming review of outsourcing by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) brings an internal market focus to bear.

EASA assumed certification tasks from the Joint Aviation Authorities when it was officially launched in September 2003 and, while it was tasked to oversee all aircraft, component and modification approvals, it has in reality outsourced the work back to the national aviation authorities of the 25 European Union member states.

Speaking at a briefing at Farnborough, EASA certification director Norbert Lohl said the current "flexible" outsourcing regime, which is overseen by an EASA management board on which all the national authorities are represented, needed to be "stabilised" for the future. "We are in intensive consultation with the member states. In the second half of this year we should have some proposals and a decision," he said.

"The basic idea for outsourcing long term is to provide services locally. A UK airline operator needs services supplied by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. While we remain committed to this concept, where we are talking about general support for aircraft certification projects such as the Boeing 787, we could easily transfer a package of work from the UK CAA to, say, the Italian CAA."

Lohl said cost factors could determine where certification work was sent. "It's at least part of the decision-making process of the review, but it's certainly not the only one. There is quality above all to consider," he said.

Cologne-based EASA employs 250 people, of which 130 are certification staff. It plans to recruit another 70 certification specialists in the coming months and add another 100 by the end of next year. Total staff numbers are expected to increase to more than 400 in 2007. As legislation may determine a possible increase in EASA's scope, the total number of staff could grow to around 600 by 2010.

EASA outsources two-thirds of its work to national authorities, but Lohl says this is decreasing.

Source: Flight International