2008 was a challenging year for ECA and its Member Associations. BA Open Skies, Subpart Q entering into force, Alitalia Phoenix Rescue Plan and EASA taking up new mandates are only a few of the issues pilots have been dealing with. In 2009, while still addressing these issues, ECA will have to deal with 2009's new challenges, such as EASA's comprehensive Notices of Proposed Amendments on Licensing and Operations. At its last Conference, held in Brussels on 11 and 12 February, ECA's members recognised this context and the need to, now more than ever, be unified and well-equipped for the future.
The Member Associations discussed in detail both the current challenges and the future role of ECA. They decided to create two "Review Groups" - one long-term and one short-term - whose aims are to assess ECA's current structure and to identify ways to adapt it to current and future challenges.
They also debated the apparent reluctance of EASA to follow up on its own scientifically based review of Flight Time Limitations regulations, and the potential actions which might be taken to support the Agency and Commission in fully implementing its recommendations as soon as possible.
ECA's members also chose to strengthen ECA's Brussels-based structure, reinforcing the ECA team by hiring, later in 2009, two new staff members - resulting in 9 employees at the ECA office.
These decisions constitute a further big step in the representation of pilots in Europe and will strengthen ECA's ability to face 2009's many challenges.