Commissioner Barrot publishes the High Level Group Report

The High Level Group on the future of aviation regulation has published its long-awaited report to European Commission Vice-President Barrot. The group of European regulators and industry representatives invited ECA to a hearing to provide the necessary pilot expert input to the report. Captain Heinz Frühwirth, who addressed the Group on the need for a robust central safety regulator and strong reference to the Global ICAO framework, expressed his satisfaction that the pilot perspective had been appropriately considered in the report.

The group made ten recommendations and provided a roadmap with concrete measures on how to boost performance of the air traffic management system. The need for strong performance regulation, more robust governance structures (including enhanced safety oversight) and an "Aviation System Coordinator" is underlined. A roadmap with concrete timelines is provided which concentrates also on facilitating the success of SESAR, the programme aimed at modernising Europe's air traffic management system.

ECA considers the report to be a pragmatic and balanced way ahead. It is now up to the European Commission to assess the Group's recommendations and to determine the way forward.

For ECA, there are three areas in particular where further work is needed:

  1. the separation of organisational oversight functions to avoid a conflict of interest in regulatory trade-offs (i.e. safety versus capacity and efficiency),
  2. more embracing of ICAO guidelines,
  3. the development of commonly agreed performance requirements.

However, ECA appreciates the recognition of their positive contribution to the process. We consider that our messages have been understood, proof of which lies in an improved approach to safety, outlined in the report. As to the follow-up given by the Commission, ECA looks forward to continued inclusion and direct consultation on the future process.

See the High Level Group Report (PDF)