Once again, the Journal benefits from the expertise of JIM LOOS, whose international aviation expertise is unparalleled. He analyzes options which may allow the UK to remain part of EASA even after BREXIT:
Three Obvious Options do not work
A real need to include UK in the continental aviation safety authority
Loos offers a possible positive proposal
The slides referred to in Ms Fioretti’s article on the UK’s continued participation in EASA are likely those found at:
Slide page number 9 clearly says that…”UK membership of EASA is not possible”
The stated purpose of the slides is for internal “preparatory discussions on the future relationship: ”Aviation”, and that they are presented “…without prejudice to discussion on the framework of future relationship.”
They detail the EU guiding principles as:
o Autonomy of the Union and its legal order (incl. European Court of Justice role)
o Integrity of the Single Market
o No “cherry picking”
o Level playing field
o Consistent approach towards third country partners
Further they say that the UK “red lines” are:
o Regulatory autonomy
o End of ECJ jurisdiction
o End of freedom of movement of people
The slides are stating the “letter of the law” as it exists going into the discussions, highlighting the difficulty they will have in reaching a technically and politically satisfactory resolution. The most significant bullet is the rejection by the UK of the European Court of Justice. That appears to be a show stopper.
It is generally agreed that it would take years for the UK to recreate its certifying authority. It is also reasonable to assume that there are a significant number of UK technical specialist working for EASA. Do they get terminated, perhaps causing a brain drain within the organization, or are they grandfathered to stay in Cologne and therefore not available to rebuild a certification organization in the UK? My experience is that multinational organizations often have better pay and benefits than national organizations. That might be a factor in how this plays out.
The UK has been a major player in the advancement of aviation in all fields, an active participant in every international meeting that I’m aware of. They have even been a tough opponent to the FAA in a few major ICAO debates. The UK has developed a paper titled “A Future Partnership” which says in part:
The agreement should also facilitate bilateral and multilateral research relationships which will be important for maintaining strong links with individual member States once the UK has left the EU. In particular the UK and the EU must ensure that their research communities can continue to access the high-level skills that support innovation in science and technology.
The paper is primarily concerned with such fields as nuclear and defense research, but the core principles of available talent apply to aviation technology.
Most commentators see three ways ahead for the UK. The first is to stay in the EU, which is not likely. The second is to have an entity such as the FAA perform the certification and safety functions. The third is to accept the ECJ and come to a non-voting membership in EASA. That is not likely either.
It must be remembered that certification of aircraft airworthiness, aircraft radio equipment licenses and pilot licenses are the responsibility of the State of Registry. EASA is an agency authorized by EU States (plus the European Free Trade States) to do the work of safety and certification. This is in the form of binding, rather strict, international agreements, but the legal responsibility remains with the State of Registry.
As Hercule Poirot would say, the simplest answer is often the best answer. What would happen to a proposal that the UK contract with EASA for (X number of years) for EASA to provide certification and safety services. This could be a long term arrangement or an extended transition period. It could even include a provision for some number of UK specialists to work with EASA for the duration of the contract. Would this avoid the requirement to recognize the ECJ?
It should be noted that 66% of the EASA budget is paid for by the industry an 34% from States. The contract could reflect this distribution.
The term “contract” is used here to avoid the political problems, such as the ECJ and immigration, suggested by the term “international agreements”. EASA already has a variety of arrangements with a significant number of non-EU States including the FAA and Canada (both having their own certification authorities). Perhaps the only real obstacle to a satisfactory conclusion is political.
I don’t think this is an original idea, but it does seem to me to be workable…so it probably isn’t.
The referenced Aeropolitical article says:
The UK has been nothing but “a very significant contributor” to the EASA both in terms of finances and its leadership on ideas and policies. This is according to a November 2017 report that was issued by the CAPA Centre for Aviation.
And Mr. Hololei says that losing “a member of that caliber,” (the UK), is a development that “everybody will be feeling very sorry about.”
So why do it?
One side point. The slides do not mention UK involvement in EUROCONTROL. I take this as confirmation that it is recognized that the UK is a longstanding member of EUROCONTROL and would remain. The question remains re the Single Sky project, which is an EU controlled enterprise, and which takes up most of the Organization’s resources.
One does have to remember the flood of aircraft coming off the Atlantic Ocean, through UK airspace into Europe. They can’t be ignored.
THANKS, Jim, for your insightful analysis !!!
 “EU could dash hopes for UK to remain in aviation safety agency”, Reuters January 25 2018
Share this article: