Administrator Huerta’s Grand Tour of Europe

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Administrator HuertaAdministrator Huerta tours Europe

Warns UK of perils of BREXIT without new US agreement

Signs agreement with EU expanding relationship

It was a great English and then American rite of passage; a young gentleman[1] set off on a tour of Europe to learn about the great civilizations on the Continent. Administrator Huerta, whose exemplary service to the FAA ends on January 7, 2018, is engaged in a reverse tour. Having spent almost seven years at the head of the FAA, the longest term of an Administrator, Mr. Huerta is a store of great knowledge. He has travelled across the Atlantic and has shared his wisdom with his European counterparts.

UK has a month to clarify post-Brexit aviation safety plans to avoid potential disruption, US official warns

In the land which fathered America’s laws, the Administrator spoke to the Aviation Club of the UK in London. He cautioned


“The UK’s exit from the EU will have ‘consequences’ in the aviation sector that would require 
the U.S. FAA and UK “to work collaboratively to manage,’ FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said 
late last week at The Aviation Club of the UK in London. “Upon exit from the EU, the UK will no 
longer have status under the U.S.-EU Safety Agreement.”

This is important because, with few exceptions, UK aviation products are currently certified by 
EASA, while service providers—including MROs—are approved via EU regulations and EASA procedures. 
“If the UK does not maintain an associated or working arrangement with EASA upon exit from the EU, 
the UK will need to quickly re-establish competencies in specific areas, especially around the 
certification of new aviation products,” Huerta noted.

“Additionally, the U.S.-UK Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement, now largely dormant, may need to be 
updated and put into place upon the UK’s exit from the EU,” he added. “This is manageable, but it 
will take time and depend on the clarity of the UK’s relationship with EASA going forward.”

Huerta said that the FAA is already engaged in technical discussions with the UK Department of 
Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority about specific steps that must be taken under various 
scenarios related to the UK’s post-exit status with EASA and Single European Sky.

“I am confident that regulators on both sides of the Pond are committed to ‘minding the gap’ 
and ensuring uninterrupted, seamless safety oversight and certification of products and services, 
as well as continuous collaboration on air traffic modernization,” Huerta concluded.

That is quite a farewell lecture. His message of urgency was clear, but who is his audience?

Not likely his counterpart, Andrew Haines, the chief executive of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, whose tenure in his position began almost at the same time as the Honorable Mr. 2016 CAA’s leader noted

“Let’s just imagine the UK was to withdraw from EASA altogether and adopt our own framework – although I’m yet to meet anyone of substance that supports that approach. It is, of course, theoretically possible and let’s just suppose we established the best aviation safety regimes in the world, It would mean a major increase in UK regulatory regime, potentially represent a major barrier to track increased costs and yet we would also risk becoming a backwater in terms of wider impact.” So the target of the Huerta didactic speak is higher up in the UK hierarchy, which seems to be struggling to make BREXIT work.


The United States and the European Union Agree to Expand Cooperation In the areas of Aviation Safety and Air Traffic Management Modernization

Accompanied by Kate Lang (left), his Director of the Europe, Africa and Middle East Region, he met Ambassador Kaja Tael, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the European Union, and European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) Director General Henrik Hololei signed Amendments to two US-EU agreements that will expand areas for joint efforts on aviation safety and air traffic management harmonization.


The Administrator explained the significance of these agreements:

“Our collaboration remains vitally important for the safe and efficient movement of passengers and cargo on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Huerta. “Today’s signing continues a deep commitment to cooperation and harmonization shared by America and the EU. In particular, I’d like to thank the European Commission and DG MOVE Director General Hololeifor his leadership in our joint collaborative efforts.”

DG MOVE Henrik Hololei replied:

“The broadened scope of the two agreements we signed today confirms the strong commitment to continue to work together for the future of aviation safety—always the highest priority in our aviation agenda. I would like to thank the FAA and in particular Administrator Huerta for the outstanding cooperation that has led us here today, and for the excellent work he has done all along his mandate in supporting a very close and fruitful cooperation with the EU.”

While there is worry about the comity between the UK and the US over airworthiness issues, here is what the signing advanced:

  1. Each authority will accept the approvals issued by the counterpart CAA for Flight Simulator Training Devices and Pilot Licensing.
  2. Beyond airworthiness issues, the FAA and EASA established procedures which will be the basis for future collaboration in aircraft operations and air traffic safety oversight. This “contract” might be used when both face a common problem and would allow allocation of tasks between them. Thus, they can reduce duplication and leverage resources. Their respective findings will be shared thus expediting their resolution of the risks being studied.
  3. Another power created in these amendments involves collaboration in the area of air traffic management modernization. There, both are already involved in separate programs to upgrade their ATC technology—SESAR and NextGen. The FAA and EU share a strong commitment to harmonizing air traffic technologies, standards and procedures. The expanded agreement will now cover the full life cycle of Air Traffic Management modernization activities from development to deployment.

These additions will make Ms. Lang’s job a little easier by defining in more precise terms the relationships between the two signators. Perhaps more significantly,

with an Administration favoring neither multilateral agreements nor trade liberalization, the execution of these terms codifies important cooperation.



Administrator Huerta made international policy a priority of his term; the European Grand Tour is a nice closing chapter to his global diary.












[1] see above 17th century depiction of  a gentleman planning his trip

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