European transport ministers have given the political go-ahead for the safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) programme, under which airlines suspected of operating unsafely will be submitted to ramp inspections at European Union (EU) airports from 1999 or possibly sooner.

Final clearance for the SAFA programme, which embraces all 32 European Civil Aviation Conference countries as well as EU states, is now subject only to approval by the European Parliament before becoming law. Approval is also to be sought to extend the programme to cover not only foreign airliners, but also EU-registered aircraft.

International safety data from individual states will be collated and analysed by the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) to determine where breaches of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards are occurring.

If information suggests that the safety oversight standards of a particular state are in question, ICAO will be approached to carry out a safety audit of the state's safety-oversight capacity and practice.

Source: Flight International