Europe’s central safety agency prepares to regulate airport operations, ATM and accident investigation

Remit will widen to include ATM, safety regulation and accident investigation by 2010

Airports and air traffic management (ATM) safety regulation will become part of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s remit by 2010, the agency’s executive director Patrick Goudou has predicted, and the organisation is looking into standardising air accident investigation. Meanwhile, Goudou has confirmed two new non-European Union EASA members, Iceland and Norway, and announced that three more states will join by 2007.

Speaking at the 2005 Europe-US International Aviation Safety Conference in Cologne, Germany, Goudou gave a timescale for the EASA takeover of responsibility for airport safety, the last aviation industry sector that will come under its regulatory control.

In the same year, 2010, ATM safety regulation will also come within EASA’s remit, but at least ATM has been the subject of Joint Aviation Authorities regulatory harmonisation activity for several years, whereas airports have been virtually untouched by European safety regulatory standardisation. Airport operational safety regulation has been left to individual national oversight according to the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Annex 14, and the industry has long recognised that ICAO airport standards are subject to widely differing national interpretations both within Europe and globally.

EASA is clearly eyeing another area that remains strictly national territory at present – accident investigation. Goudou told the Cologne meeting that the series of disparate national systems “is clearly not in the best interests of passenger safety in an increasingly integrated aviation market”. He reports that his head of safety analysis, John Vincent, has already convened a meeting of 19 national accident investigation boards at which they agreed there should be greater international co-operation, and they would meet regularly to see how it could be done.

Goudou reports growth in all senses at EASA. He says the agency’s staff is 120 today, will be 200 by the end of this year, and 300 in December 2006, adding that he has “a strong feeling that will not be the limit”.

Meanwhile, the number of member states is expanding beyond EU boundaries. In addition to the two non-EU states, Iceland and Norway, which have recently joined, Switzerland is going to become an EASA member state next year. Bulgaria and Romania will become members by virtue of their accession to the EU in 2007.


Source: Flight International