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Mon, Mar 05, 2012

No Standardization For European Flight Crew Licensing

Implementation Deadline Of April 8th Has Been Scrapped

Confusion and uncertainty surrounds the implementation of EASA-FCL (Flight Crew Licensing) across Europe, with different countries establishing different timetables for compliance and minimal coordination between national aviation authorities. According to AOPA International, the original implementation deadline of April 8th 2012 has been abandoned, and states are planning to introduce EASA-FCL any time between July 2012 and April 2013. The European Commission has decreed that every state complete the transition by April 2014, so the later they begin implementation, the less time they have to do the job.

The arbitrary nature of these deadlines troubles IAOPA Europe. While EASA-FCL is inextricably bound up with Operational Requirements and Authority Requirements, the deadlines for these do not coincide, and states will be forced to adopt laws which are not fully developed. EASA has been brought into disrepute by the hurried adoption of poorly thought-out regulation, and the aviation industry has paid the price.

The United Kingdom, it seems, had learned nothing from its precipitate and disastrous overnight adoption of the JARs (Joint Aviation Requirements), which led to bizarre anomalies such as pilots having to take exams for which there was no syllabus and engineers having to adopt schedules which made no sense at all. The UK now intends to be first to adopt EASA-FCL, and will do so from July 1st 2012. Other countries intend to stand back and watch what happens – Germany will postpone adoption until the last possible date, April 8th 2013, as will Spain and France. Greece is aiming for December 8th 2012. Other national authorities simply shrug their shoulders when asked when EASA-FCL comes into effect. In Iceland, which is not a member of the EU and therefore has more complex systems for incorporating EASA diktat into its regulations, adoption may even run beyond 2013.

Whenever adoption is begun, states will be taking on half-understood regulation which will be profoundly affected by rules which have not been completed. It will be impossible to calculate how much EASA-FCL will cost, and given that the new burden of cost is certain to drive some smaller operators to the wall, it seems perverse to force through adoption only for the coup de grace to be administered by the follow-up punch. For instance, flight training organisations which have operated for years as ‘registered facilities’ will have to be come ‘Approved Training Organisations’, and will have to be inspected and audited by their national authorities. In the UK, it is said that the minimum cost will be £1,000, (€1,200) simply to be allowed to continue doing what they’ve been doing for years. In addition, every course an ATO offers will have to be audited and approved by the national authority, and it is not clear how the cost implications of that are to be handled. There will also be expensive requirements for new operations manuals and procedures training, and some one-man-bands will throw in the towel. But they’ll be required to start training for EASA licences before they go out of business.

“We are rushing into this because of arbitrary deadlines set by the EC many years ago for no practical reason," said IAOPA Senor Vice President Martin Robinson. "In the UK, we must by law have Regulatory Impact Assessments, but they seem to have been abandoned for EASA regulation. A little caution might go a long way, but our CAA seems determined to risk a rerun of the JAR fiasco with EASA. There is a more sensible way of doing this.”

FMI: www.iaopa.eu

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