European Commission advice on the consequences of a no-deal Brexit included a surprise for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, a policy specialist with the national regulator has acknowledged.
Issued in April, the Commission's document stated that UK-issued EASA certifications would "no longer be valid as of the withdrawal date [29 March 2019], unless such a certificate concerns a part or appliance which was installed prior to the withdrawal date".
Steve Horton, who works within the CAA's safety and airspace regulation group, recalls that this clause was "perhaps the one subject" in the EU document that caused staff at the UK regulator to wonder: "Where did that one come from?"
Speaking at the MRO Europe convention in Amsterdam on 17 October, Horton said: "Until we can talk to somebody at EASA and understand where that came from, what they actually mean, and we actually have a discussion to change that, we don't know."
No day-to-day conversations between the CAA and EASA are taking place because the EU regulator has been barred from talks with its UK equivalent at the current stage of government negotiations, with the result that the channels of communication are "completely shut down", says Horton.
However, he is confident that once EASA and CAA are able to discuss their future relationship "we will have a lot in common".
Noting UK prime minister Theresa May's statement, in March, that the nation intended to seek continued participation in EU aviation regulation, Horton says: "We want to still be part of the EASA system. Whatever happens on 29 March... we will be following EASA regulation."
He says EASA rules will be implemented in UK law with "very minor" changes. References to the EU and EASA will be replaced with UK and CAA, and references to the European Court of Justice will amended to the national legal system.
CAA preparations will ensure that "from a UK perspective everything will be in place" for UK-registered aircraft to continue operating from and to the country after Brexit, he says.
He notes, however, that "we can only take across what [EU regulation] is in place on 29 March 2019". Future changes would depend on post-Brexit arrangements.
Meanwhile, the UK is in the process of negotiating bilateral agreements with the US Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada and Brazil's ANAC. "We definitely need [those] in place by March," he says.
No matter whether or not the UK is part of the EASA system after Brexit, the EU's current bilaterals with other countries will no longer apply to the UK, he says. Under a proposed post-Brexit EU-UK transition period, "we won't be included in the bilateral agreements", he adds.
The CAA has received "lots" of enquiries from other national aviation authorities to link up and, Horton says, the UK regulator's consultancy arm has registered an increase in demand for support services for Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries to build up regulatory capabilities.
Horton sees a post-Brexit opportunity in potential regulatory changes for general aviation. As a national regulator, the CAA might, he suggests, be able to "relax" certain EASA rules and introduce "much more appropriate" regulation for the sector.
Source: Cirium Dashboard