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European Parliament backs safety stop-gap for no-deal Brexit

Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of continuing to recognise, for an interim period, UK-issued European Aviation Safety Agency certificates in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The regulation was approved by the body on 13 February, but requires support from the European Council – which represents the governments of the EU's 27 member states – to become legally binding.

Although the UK government has previously indicated that it will adopt and follow EASA regulations after the nation's scheduled departure from the bloc on 29 March, the EU has been unwilling to reciprocate.

It says the UK will become a third country and that certificates issued by the country's Civil Aviation Authority – under EASA rules – will not automatically be recognised by the regulator.

UK holders of EASA certificates have been invited to "transfer" to an EU member state's jurisdiction or to apply for third-country approvals.

Under the proposed regulation – tabled in December 2018 – the EU recognises that in "some specific instances" it will not be possible for holders of UK-issued EASA certificates to obtain third-country approvals "as the UK resumes, for its jurisdiction, the role as 'state of design'".

Noting that the UK can only start issuing certificates in its new role after leaving the EU, the proposal says: "It is therefore necessary to set up a temporary mechanism to extend the validity of certain aviation safety certificates, in order to allow the operators concerned and [EASA] sufficient time to issue the necessary certificates."

The EU further justifies its proposal by pointing out that "unlike in most other areas of [EU] law regarding goods, the invalidity of certificates has an impact not on the placing on the market but on the actual use of aviation products, parts and appliances in the union.

"Such use of aviation products in the union should not be impacted by the withdrawal of the UK."

But it asserts that the duration of a validity extension for certificates should be "limited to what is strictly necessary in order to deal with the United Kingdom’s departure from the [EASA] system".

Under the proposal, certificates issued by EASA to UK companies are set to remain valid for nine months after the Brexit date, to give entities time to apply for and receive new approvals from the CAA.

EASA certificates that have been issued by UK companies while these entities were overseen by the CAA as an EASA-delegated authority are set to "remain valid in perpetuity", says the UK aerospace trade association ADS.

The latter category includes production, maintenance, and airworthiness review certificates, and covers parts installed on aircraft or stored in warehouses across Europe, notes ADS.

However, the body warns that EASA "will need to confirm how they will be interpreting this regulation… The regulation should provide a safety net, but at this stage we can't say for certain that we know what all its effects will be."

As a result, ADS advises UK aviation companies to "continue efforts to apply directly to EASA for third-country approvals… to ensure continued recognition under the EU aviation safety regime, and to retain existing CAA or [US] FAA approvals".

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