An omniscient Congressperson (is that redundant?) was able to delete the word “promote” from the list of statutory purposes. Never having witnessed any FAA action which would be considered any form of sales efforts for US aviation or its products, that was an extraordinary Congressional overreaction (redundant again?). Now, the consequences of restraining the FAA’s international outreach efforts have been demonstrated by the two below linked articles.
The EC/EU/EASA (the EC is the author, but the other two pan-European organizations will be involved in implementation) unveiled a major promotional aviation initiative called an “Aviation Strategy for Europe” on December 7. This marketing campaign’s goal is “to bolster the continent’s €110 billion aviation sector” by negotiating new international relationships with other countries. The target of this sales effort is new “air transport agreements, revising safety regulations and investing in new technology.”
Olivier Jankovec, director General of ACI Europe, commented that this package is a set of actions aimed at opening up access to key external markets and addressing capacity problems in the air and at airports, all while maintaining the highest levels of safety and security. He said that “The Commission has gotten it right – taking stock of the increasing strategic relevance of air connectivity for our economy.”
The changes in regulations, mentioned above (particularly Mr. Jankovec’s comments), are particularly worrisome. The EC/EASA has been very aggressive in finding that foreign carriers, not the relevant civil aviation authorities, are prohibited from flying within the European Continent. Its Black List is a long list of prohibited airlines. Does the “Aviation Strategy for Europe” translate to watering down its existing safety parameters? A more basic question is whether these sovereign-to-sovereign audits, performed by ICAO and multiple CAAs, make good policy sense to begin with?
If the EC’s new strategy was not enough of a “challenge,” then the 2nd article makes it clear. The FAA recently found that the Thai Civil Aviation Department was being demoted to Category 2 status on its IASA rating. Soon after the FAA’s determination, EASA signed an agreement with the TCAD on how to upgrade Thailand’s aviation safety standard. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith made it clear that the agreement would put his organization in compliance.
That is not unusual, but the timing of the signing of the agreement was just two days before the EASA will announce the results of its evaluation of Thailand’s civil aviation safety standards. That sounds very “sketchy” relationship between an “auditor” and a country being “audited” while the “auditor/consultant” is teaching the other CAA how to comply.
This new international agreement, under the “Aviation Strategy for Europe,” should “bolster” its interests in Thailand.
Administrator Huerta reinforced the theme of “global leadership” as one of the agency’s four strategic initiatives at the Dubai Air Show. The Global Leadership Initiative is setting the FAA priority to engage with the international aviation community “to improve safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability through regulatory harmonization and partnerships.” Compared to the EC Declaration, that’s a passive, non-promotional statement. He has a staff with international presence and relations; however, he has had to shrink the overseas offices staffed with FAA aviation experts.
In response to the EC declaration of expansion, should not Congress reauthorize to “promote” aviation? The US is the birthplace of this industry; the FAA should be allowed to proudly promote its approach to safety standards.