CREATING A SUPER EASA MAY CONTRIBUTE DOUBTS AS TO THE BIASES IN CENTRALIZED COLOGNE AVIATION SAFETY DECISIONS

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ARTICLE: EU Ponders FAA-Style Super Agency

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The headline’s reference to an “FAA-Style” super agency is a little mystifying. The FAA has no more power than the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, France’s Direction générale de l’aviation civile, Germany’s Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA) and the 24 other EU countries’ civil aviation authorities. The FAA and all of the EU CAAs generally hold the same authority to issue, interpret and enforce safety rules.

What is notable here would be the relinquishment of the 27 sovereigns of their control of the airlines, airports, pilots, mechanics, TC/PC applicants/holders (airframes, powerplants and avionics) and other aviation entities to the European Aviation Safety Authority and the Eurocrats who reside in Cologne, Germany. That’s a major concession of sovereign power and discretion.

If this change contemplates the combination of some or all of the local authorities, at a minimum that means that the final interpretation power moves to Cologne (Köln). Further consolidation might compel some employees of the local CAAs to move to Germany and perhaps to qualify under the EU’s standards of employment and knowledge criteria. Those would be substantial personal concessions by seasoned CAA career employees!

EASA and the EU have exhibited aggressive tendencies on hush kits and the ETS proposal. The existence of the individual CAAs may have mitigated the final outcome in some of these issues. EASA is managed by a Management Board and that august body is responsible for the definition of the Agency’s priorities, the establishment of the budget and for monitoring the Agency’s operation. All EU Members have representatives and it must be assumed that Liechtenstein, Cyprus and Malta have equal voice on major policy matter as do the UK, France and Germany. That does not commend grant of greater discretion to EASA.

As noted here recently, the European Court of Auditors has found that EASA has inadequate policies on conflicts of interest as to staff, experts, management board and board appeals. That critique is not a good predicate to adding to EASA’s power.

More worrisome is the role of the European Council, Commission and Parliament, which jointly decide to fund (and thus influence) EASA. It is generally believed that the Member States and the Parliament members from those states do not have a single view on many policy issues. In the Member countries, election to the European Parliament is not a top priority among local politicians, many/most of whom would prefer to run for local positions and/or their national legislative bodies. Consequently, it takes a rare politician willing to be elected to work in Strasbourg, France; many EP members are not considered to be mainstream politicians in their home jurisdictions.

It is fair to say that placing the ultimate and sole authority to issue and interpret aviation safety policy and rules in Cologne may further politicize the decisions so important to the future of airlines, airports, pilots, aircraft manufacturers, repair stations and other aviation institutions? The history of the EU’s involvement in hush kits, noise standards, and environmental rules has not created a sense of objective policy decisions; the Eurocratic aviation policy decisions seem to be unduly Eurocentric. Before a final decision is made to consolidate all aviation safety in Cologne, hopefully some protections against bias will be enacted.

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