EC’S EDICTS MAY STRAIN THE SOVEREIGN-TO-SOVEREIGN RELATIONSHIP NEEDED TO RESTORE OPERATING RIGHTS TO EUROPE

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ARTICLE: European Commission updated air carriers’ bans

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When a sovereign deigns to judge the regulatory actions of another country, tension results – particularly when the action impairs the commercial authority of the airline(s) with a license from the reviewed Civil Aviation Authority. Here, the EC has found a number of carriers, which hold the legal right to fly to Europe, to have inadequate safety standards to continue those operations. Thereafter, communications between and among the relevant CAAs and the carriers are fraught with problems.

The effort to restore the authorization, created by the ban, involves a governmental body, which previously found (and is continuing to find) the carrier fit from a safety perspective. The EC’s decision is indirectly a criticism of the surveilling CAA. The communication thereafter is frequently garbled.

The critique, needed by the banned carrier to resurrect its flights, is oftentimes unclear. Instead of precise, direct analysis of the carrier’s deficiencies, polite verbiage of diplomatic communiques may mask the real problem(s).

Reestablishing regulatory compliance requires blunt talk – details of inferior training materials, specific citations of how controls are inadequate, examples of observed subpar flight operations or maintenance performance, etc. Such content is needed to rectify the situation. That type of honest talk is not the ordinary vocabulary when the foreign ministry may be involved.

Even when the judging CAA and the judged CAA talk directly there may be some pulled punches. Even assuming that the message of the specific shortcomings is accurately received by CAA #2, there may be an inclination for the government employee to overstate the private culpability; perhaps not due to any malice, just the perspective of a sovereign.

A better approach than this CAA-CAA-carrier conversation may be to identify independent professionals, who have performed the CAA functions, but who are not part of the history which has caused this problem. They are more likely to be able to have the direct, unvarnished dialogue that will get to the crux of the problem. These professionals also have the right stuff in their tool kits. They have the skills to design practical solutions which meet the regulatory requirements and which also define the practical necessities of an airline operation. It may cost more to use a consultant, but the time which the 3rd party intervention may save, may translate to an early revenue stream due to the more expeditious restoration of authority to Europe.

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