The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is mobilising for a major extension to its scope and remit in the future. The major areas of this future revamp of the Agency are outlined in the proposal for revision of the EASA Basic Regulation, published last month after a consultation with stakeholders.
For the years to come, the EASA Opinion of March 2015 proposes to make changes in 7 key areas:
- A performance-based and integrated approach to safety,
- Modernising and updating the EASA’s safety remit,
- Extending the EASA’s remit beyond safety,
- Optimising the use of available resources,
- Ensure an adequate and stable Agency funding,
- Further integration of aviation aspects, and
- Aviation regulation beyond the EASA’s facets.
An important part of the proposed changes focus on the transition towards a Performance-Based Regulatory (PBR) environment. On this issue, the Agency finds a common ground with many stakeholders that PBR should not totally replace the prescriptive elements of the framework but should rather gradually complement them further or possibly replace them where appropriate. In its contribution to the consultation, ECA has outlined that PBR can improve safety but in can also endanger it if implemented or overseen badly. Giving operators flexibility depending on the scope and nature of their operations and taking into account their safety record may be a way forward. Yet, the danger of a rushed or inconsequential approach to PBR will be a long-term deterioration of safety standards.
Among others, EASA proposes for Member States to delegate and/or share some of the safety oversight functions to other national authorities or to pool them or delegate them to the Agency, in order to make sure that no safety risks are overlooked. This is a much-welcome move, considering the multiple examples of lacking safety oversight or difficulties of performing remote oversight operations. ECA supports the view that in a long-term step-by-step process, the national authorities could evolve to become national EASA ‘satellites’, complementing and supporting the Agency. This however is only possible if the Agency receives the necessary additional resources, both financially and in terms of manpower and expertise, something which ECA strongly supports.
The EASA Opinion remains at high, generic policy level and, therefore, does not contain any draft legal text. As a next step, the Opinion will serve as an input for the European Commission’s proposal for amending the Agency’s current Basic Regulation. This is expected in the second half of 2015. All changes should ultimately contribute towards an Agency which is a well-equipped safety regulator and oversight body, capable of effectively overseeing Europe’s increasingly growing and complex aviation. You can read more about the Opinion and the change proposals here.