Not enough funding?

Will the European Aviation Safety Agency be able to successfully carry out its new responsibilities with existing funding?

The European Commission this month published a proposal to extend the regulatory powers of the European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, to air operations, flight crew licensing and oversight of third-country airlines.

Since its’ establishment in 2003, EASA has had an increasingly important role in promoting the highest common standards of safety and environmental protection in civil aviation within EU.

The new tasks will bring powers over non-EU airlines as well, as they will have to meet the same safety standards as European operators.

But the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) is afraid that EASA won’t be able to successfully carry out its new responsibilities unless adequate funding is provided.

“With regard to the new demanding tasks that will be placed under EASA’s responsibility, it has to be made sure that EASA’s operations are properly funded”, said François Gayet, ASD Secretary General, “since it has already been clear that the level of community funding is not sufficient enough to even support EASA’s current tasks”, he continued.

Until now, EASA has been busy in issuing certifications of aircraft and equipment as well as approving design, production and maintenance organisations. It also provides technical expertise to the EU and its partners, and drafts common rules and procedures in the area of aviation safety.

The Commission proposal would extend the powers to operation rules, flight-crew licensing and training and certifying compliance of third-country operator aircraft. Following this, it is also expected that the Agency takes on safety-related aspects in the field of air traffic management and airport operations.

Ultimately, EASA should become European counterpart to the US Federal Aviation Administration. But the ASD is concerned that the envisaged increase of budget of 50million Euros by 2010 is not enough for EASA to fulfil its key roles in standardization, safety analysis and safety rulemaking, not to speak of its future responsibilities.

An increase of public funding is essential, it says, for EASA to ensure the proper functioning of the common aviation market, and to cope with the new tasks and thus maintaining the credibility of the European aviation safety system vis-à-vis foreign aviation authorities.

The European Parliament will vote on the EASA 2006 budget on 15th December in its plenary session.