EASA’s mission 10 years on

With the aim of replacing a patchwork of national and European safety management by harmonised European legislation and oversight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has over the last decade concentrated aviation safety policy within its scope. To successfully achieve its central safety mission, however, EASA will have to overcome a number of significant challenges.

With prospects of doubling in air traffic over the coming decades, EASA’s goals to achieve an ever higher uniform level of safety in Europe will not become any easier. The accompanying increasing complexity of operations and economic pressure in the aviation industry are raising even further the bar for EASA. In the context of a five-yearly evaluation of the Agency, ECA published a position paper outlining the major challenges and key attention areas for EASA. Among the tasks for the Agency, as outlined by ECA, are quantifying EU’s safety objectives, implementing performance-based regulations and ensuring adequate safety oversight across Europe.

On various occasions EASA and the EU Commission have expressed their aim to make Europe the area with the “highest aviation safety” in the world. Yet, such a goal would require quantifying what “a high uniform level of civil aviation safety in Europe” entails and reflecting this in the principal objective of EASA’s Basic Regulation. 

At the same time, EASA must fully manage the shift towards performance-based regulation. While the Agency will have to continue setting basic safety standards through prescriptive rules, a performance-based approach can improve safety but it could also endanger safety, if implemented and/or overseen poorly. This demanding responsibility can only be achieved if EASA receives the necessary additional resources, both financially and in terms of manpower and expertise. A case in point is the newly proposed EU Occurrence Reporting Regulation which foresees an increasingly important role for EASA.

While EASA’s safety mission remains the same, the Agency’s responsibilities are growing in a very dynamic, transnational and complex context. Building EASA as a true Safety Agency will require a continuing effort by all stakeholders and increased resources for the Agency, as well as for national civil aviation authorities which will have to work even more closely with EASA in the future. 

Read full evaluation here or download "The Future of EASA: ECA position paper on the EASA evaluation as stipulated in Basic Regulation 216/2008 Article 62"