FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Program Change

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Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 129
International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Program Change
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Policy statement.

78 Fed Reg 14912-14913, March 8, 2013


Under the IASA, the FAA assesses whether another country’s oversight of its air carriers that operate, or seek to operate, into the U.S. (or code shares with a U.S. air carrier) complies with aviation safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO has a similar program in which it assesses the degree to which its Member States comply with the international standards.

The new FAA policy, which goes into effect on April 8, 2013, will delist a country when the results of the FAA’s IASA determines that country’s IASA information is no longer accurate and reasonably current. The FAA will proceed on the basis that if, after a four year period, a country has no air carrier providing air transport service to the U.S., none of the country’s air carriers participates in code-share agreement with a U.S. air carrier, and the country’s regulatory authority no longer interacts significantly with the FAA for an extended period of time.

Once “delisted” that country may seek reinstatement, which would require that the aviation agency must meet the ICAO standards and be assessed in the following eight elements:

  1. Primary aviation legislation,
  2. Specific operating regulations,
  3. Organization structure and safety oversight functions,
  4. Technical personnel qualification and training,
  5. Technical guidance,
  6. Certification personnel and procedures,
  7. Surveillance obligations, and
  8. Resolution of safety issues.

As noted in this Journal before, the delicate relations between sovereigns does not facilitate the identification of the problems inherent in the assessed country’s CAA nor is it likely that the CAA, found to be deficient, can easily correct the deficiencies.

The FAA auditors may find it difficult, for example, to state that the assessed CAA’s Director of Air Navigation is not technically competent. Equally problematic, the CAA may find it uncomfortable to explain to their legislature, which also sets the salaries of the aviation staff, that their statute is inadequate.

These roles may be more easily performed by outside experts with international aviation experience. They have historical relationships with the FAA staff and are more likely to hear the real issues and to understand exactly what must be done. These third party experts have the independence to deliver straight forward messages and the stature to have their judgments accepted. They can speak frankly both to the Director of Air Navigation about his competence and to the Parliament about its laws and their articulation of the problems cannot be ignored.

Of equal importance, these consultants can rewrite the regulations, reorder the handbooks’ priority, find competent personnel and train the CAA staff to the appropriate standards. Each of these activities could not be performed by the CAA’s internal staff.

Reclaiming Category I status is not just a matter of prestige. The recognition of the CAA’s renewed competence is a mandatory predicate to its flag carriers operating their US flights. The enhanced classification would be the first step toward further enhancements, like obtaining a BASA agreement (a slow but useful process), which further adds to its country’s aviation companies’ (repair, manufacturing, etc.) ability to sell to the US aviation sector.

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