GPWS and ELT compliance deadlines postponed by mutually beneficial agreement

Russian authorities have secured an agreement with Europe to postpone installation of modern ground-proximity warning systems (GPWS) on the Russian fleet, in exchange for a similar delay for European fitting of electronic locator beacons.

It follows a warning from the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) that Russian aircraft faced possible grounding under the ECAC Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme if carriers failed to upgrade their GPWS equipment.

A source within ECAC familiar with the agreement says that ramp inspections on Russian types under the SAFA programme revealed a number of aircraft still operating with "very old" first-generation, three-channel GPWS equipment.

"Under SAFA we were probably showing a lax attitude, classifying the aircraft as being okay, closing our eyes to it," he admits.

ECAC planned to tighten its requirements from 1 January 2005 by making failure to upgrade the GPWS a more serious offence. ECAC had insisted operators fit Russian types with at least second-generation, five-channel GPWS equipment or risk having their aircraft grounded.

But Russian negotiators countered by pointing out that new International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations on carriage of emergency locator transmitters (ELT) - requiring them to broadcast on two frequencies - come into force on the same date. Aircraft not equipped with such transmitters could theoretically be barred from Russian airspace, and this has led the two sides to seek a mutually beneficial agreement.

The ECAC source concedes that the Russian enforcement of the transmitter regulation amounts to "retaliation" for the GPWS move, adding: "The Russians are very good chess players."

This has led to an agreement, sealed at a meeting in Rome on 10 December, which centres on a one-year postponement for Russian operators to comply with the GPWS upgrades and a corresponding extension to the deadline for European carriers to fit appropriate transmitters.

"As a result of this meeting a compromise has been found which makes it possible to avoid disruption of air traffic between Russia and Europe," says a statement from the Russian transport ministry. "It gives Russian airlines using older aircraft 12 months to equip their aircraft with new ground-proximity warning systems."


Source: Flight International