The EASA release of its 2018-2022 European Plan for Aviation Safety caused two veteran aviation authors to be intrigued by the notion of a regulator
“The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) has included a ‘rulemaking cooldown’ that reduces the number of regulatory opinions in a five-year span. Specifically, the plan states ‘Delivery of the number of [regulatory] opinions over the next five years has been reduced as compared to the previous years.’ The EASA explained that the move is being done in part to focus on giving support on the application of recently adopted regulations and give precedence to other ways of bolstering safety, especially when it comes to focused oversight and safety promotion. ‘The shift to safety promotion is particularly significant in the field of general aviation,” EASA stated.’”
“EASA’s 2018-2022 European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) now includes what the agency calls a ‘rulemaking cooldown.’ Specifically, the plan states, ‘Delivery of the number of [regulatory] opinions over the next five years has been reduced as compared to the previous years.’ The agency said this reflects the need to put more focus on supporting the implementation of recently adopted regulations and give priority to other means of improving safety, notably focused oversight and safety promotion. ‘The shift to safety promotion is particularly significant in the field of general aviation,’ EASA said.”
In the Plan, EASA choose some interesting words to describe this new approach
Better regulation: Cool-down period As the European regulatory framework for aviation started being set up in 2002, the volume of regulation created was necessarily significant. As this process is now largely completed, a ‘cool-down period’ has been proposed by stakeholders in order to stabilise the regulatory system and reduce the burden on Member States and industry when implementing new requirements. This cooling down needs to differentiate between the EASA work on technical standards (Certification Specifications) and Opinions that are the basis of new Commission regulations. EASA introduced the cooling down ceilings in its 5–year plan…. The words “better regulation” and “proposed by stakeholders in order to stabilize the regulatory system...” might have attracted different headlines in the US media. The term is further defined at p. 13 of EPAS Better Regulation: rules are evidence-based, where appropriate performance based, proportionate, fit-for purpose, simply-written and contribute to the competitiveness of the industry.
To meet this policy goal, EASA must ensure that its regulatory proposals deliver maximum benefits at minimum cost to citizens, businesses and workers without creating unnecessary regulatory burdens for Member States and EASA itself. To that end, EASA must design regulatory proposals transparently, based on evidence, understandable by those who are affected and backed up by the views of stakeholders. To be fully effective, ‘Better Regulation’ must cover the entire regulatory cycle, i.e. the planning phase, design of a proposal, adoption, implementation, application, evaluation and revision. To ensure that the EU has the best regulation possible, EASA must examine each phase of new or existing projects with a view to ensure that the objectives, tools and procedures adhere to ‘Better Regulation’ principles.
The 125 page plan has a number of other noteworthy highlights:
- I. International reach of EASA p.6- EASA has frequently expressed ambitions to extend its regulatory influence. EPAS makes it clear that, like the Monroe Doctrine, the EU will tend to all countries on the continent. Here is the relevant declaration:
“2.1 The global aviation safety plan (GASP) The EPAS implements the objectives and global priorities identified in the GASP. The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) conclusions have identified that States’ inability to effectively oversee aviation operations remains a global safety concern. For that reason, the GASP objectives call for States to put in place robust and sustainable safety oversight systems and to progressively evolve them into more sophisticated means of managing safety. These objectives are aligned with ICAO’s requirements for the implementation of the States’ Safety Programmes (SSPs) by the States and Safety Management Systems (SMS) by the service providers. The GASP objectives are addressed in section 5.1.1. Safety management.”
II. BREXIT FIX? in 2.1’s paragraph, there may be a “hidden” solution to the BREXIT conundrum. Many positions have been expressed that the UK’s departure from the EU may have severe consequences to the island nation. Guest expert Jim Loos has suggested that a contract may provide adequate legal nexus to allow the United Kingdom to participate in EASA. The below quote may suggest that maybe England would be included in a Regional Plan:
…… In addition, during 2017 ICAO and EASA have been working together to develop a Regional Plan for Aviation Safety based on this document, thus allowing all States that are part of the European region to benefit from this approach."
III. SMS will be a focus of EASA—EASP makes the following comments which confirms the EU’s commitment to this advanced aviation safety technique and the underlying data base:
“Authorities and aviation organisations should anticipate more and more new threats and associated challenges by developing Safety Risk Management principles. Those principles will be strengthened by Safety Management System implementation supported by ICAO annex 19, and (EU) No 376/2014 for reporting reinforcement.. See Section 5.1.1. Data4Safety (also known as D4S) is a data collection and analysis programme that aims at collecting and gathering all data that may support the management of safety risks at European level. This includes safety reports (or occurrences), flight data (i.e. data generated by the aircraft via the Flight Data Recorders), surveillance data (air traffic data), weather data - but those are only a few from a much longer list. More specifically, the programme will allow to better know where the risks are (safety issue identification), determine the nature of these risks (Risk Assessment) and verify if the safety actions are delivering the needed level of safety (performance measurement). It aims to develop the capability to discover vulnerabilities in the system across terabytes of data.”
III. Emphasis on General Aviation Safety:
“Address safety risks in GA in a proportionate and effective manner In the last years, accidents involving recreational aeroplanes have led to an average of nearly 80 fatalities per year in Europe (excluding fatal accidents involving micro light airplanes), which makes it one of the sectors of aviation with the highest yearly number of fatalities. Furthermore, in 2016, there were 78 fatalities in noncommercial operations with aeroplanes (highest number) and 20 in the domain of glider/sailplane operations (2nd highest number). These two areas present the highest numbers of fatal accidents in 2016. The General Aviation Roadmap is key to the EASA strategy in this domain. Although it is difficult to precisely measure the evolution of safety performance in GA due to lack of consolidated data (e.g. accumulated flight hours), it is reasonable to assume that step changes in the existing safety level are not being achieved at European level, despite all initiatives and efforts. Therefore, in 2016 EASA decided to organise a workshop on GA safety to share knowledge and agree on the safety actions that will contribute to improve safety in this domain.”
yet at p. 14, EASA adds a balancing comment:
3.1.4 Efficiency Reduce the regulatory burden for GA EASA is fully engaged to develop simpler, lighter and better rules for GA
IV.The Environment—EASA has been aggressive in attacking CO2 and maybe hinting, by not mentioning by name the ICAO plan CORSIA, that they may try to do more:
Climate change and noise: Introduce the CAEP/10 recommendations Actions in this area will contribute to meet European targets on climate change prevention by implementing the ICAO CO2 standard. ICAO CAEP in February 2016 adopted entirely new standards on CO2 and particulate matter emissions. The agreed CO2 standard needs to be implemented in the European system to become effective.
IV. Helicopter Safety Having experienced a highly publicized kerfuffle about a crash and a bit of discord among European CAA’s, EASA made this mode of transportation a priority:
“--helicopter upset (Loss of Control) This is key risk area with the highest priority in offshore and CAT helicopter operations (7 fatal accidents in the past 10 years). Loss of control for offshore helicopters generally falls into two scenarios, technical failure that renders the aircraft uncontrollable or human factors. In addition it is the second most common accident outcome for aerial work operations (9 fatal accidents in the past 10 years). — terrain and obstacle collision This is the second priority key risk area for offshore helicopter operations, although equipment is now fitted to helicopters in this domain that will significantly mitigate the risk of this outcome. Obstacle collisions is the second most common accident outcome in the CAT helicopters domain (4 fatal accidents in the past 10 years). This highlights the challenges of HEMS operations and their limited selection and planning for landing sites. It is the most common outcome for aerial work operations (11 fatal accidents in the past 10 years).”
VII. Drones—in spite of the “cooldown” assertion, EASA indicates that more needs to be done with DRONES:
Ensure the safe operation of drones
“The number of drones within the EU has multiplied over the last 2 years. Available evidence demonstrates an increase of drones coming into close proximity with manned aviation (both aeroplanes and helicopters) and the need to mitigate the associated risk (15 non-fatal accidents were included in the European Central Repository in 2016). Furthermore, the lack of harmonised rules at EU level makes unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations dependent on an individual authorisation by every MS, which is a burdensome administrative process that stifles business development and innovation. In order to remove restrictions on UAS operations at EU level, so that all companies can make best use of the UAS technologies to create jobs and growth while maintaining a high and uniform level of safety, EASA is engaged in developing the relevant regulatory material.”
Looks like the UAS sector will see more rules. Plans are excellent exercises for government organizations to perform.
The written vision of where action is likely to occur helps the public and industry plan. Exogeneous variables and forces can alter priorities. It will be interesting to see how the EPAS fares.
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