International Federation of Airworthiness. Promoting AirworthinessInternationalImpartial
International Federation of Airworthiness. Promoting AirworthinessInternationalImpartial

Grace And Finesse Needed

Home Articles Grace And Finesse Needed

EASA’s Ky to SCRUTINIZE US certification projects.
Rep. Graves and Rep. Graves tell FAA to protect BASA
Recent Status– more finesse than force

IFA Comment: IFA believes there’s a need to strengthen existing BASA’s between the leading manufacturing nations. This is not a time to weaken the agreements that ensure that aviation authorities act together with the common aim of improving aviation safety.  Changes maybe envisaged in the detail of agreements, these should always evolve to address growing concerns. However, the basic fundamentals that drive coordination and cooperative working remain of great international value to civil aviation. 

Two Republican Members of the Aviation Subcommittee (Graves of MO and Graves of LA) have aggressively come to the defense of US aircraft manufacturers. They wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg insisting that he ensure that BASA is being honored by EASA. The letter was motivated by Director Ky’s assertion that his organization “will increase our level of involvement [and] our level of independent review of U.S. projects in order to build our own safety assessments.”

The leading minority Members of T&I countered:  “We are very concerned that Director-General Ky’s comments could be taken as a groundless attack on the BASA, the FAA’s safety certification regime, and U.S. aerospace manufacturers generally,” they said. “His statement appears to unilaterally undermine the core premise of the BASA, which is based upon reciprocity between comparable certification systems.”

While such support of US OEMs is commendable and since one could argue that the Biden Administration would value support of the Republicans as to calling EASA to task, there is a relevant  record that might temper a rigorous reaction to any EASA degradation of the BASA.  The US aviation community has suffered great embarrassment due to the horrendous Boeing/FAA certification mess; here’s a brief reminder of that sad performance—

The point is that unfortunately the FAA is not in a position to be strict in its interpretation of the BASA. After multiple disclosures by Boeing, its employees/whistleblowers, the FAA and others, it was clear that the Max 8’s certification was flawed. All BASAs are preceded by YEARS of exchanges of information, assessment of criteria, review of the airworthiness certification professionals and all other aspects of these demanding processes. The Max 8 fiasco weakened, if not broke, that trust developed between the FAA and EASA over years!!

Administrator Dickson wrote back to the two Graves in a tone suggesting he will protect the BASA. That he will, but he must play his hands with grace and finesse, not grit and force.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson reassured lawmakers that his agency is remaining engaged with EASA to ensure that certification and validation approaches remain consistent with the U.S./EU Safety Agreement. In letters to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking Republican Sam Graves (Missouri) and aviation subcommittee ranking Republican Garret Graves (Louisiana), Dickson said the FAA takes “seriously” remarks made earlier in the year by EASA Director-General Patrick Ky that EASA “will increase our level of involvement [and] our level of independent review of U.S. projects in order to build our own safety assessments.”

Ky made those remarks before the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism during a discussion on EASA’s recertification of the Boeing 737 Max. The statement prompted a letter from both Congressmen to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressing concerns that EASA “intends to move away from the established practice of relying on the FAA for the certification of U.S. aircraft and products, and…will assert a more independent role in clearing their airworthiness.” They asked the Secretary to confirm that EASA’s plans do not violate the bilateral safety agreement in place between the U.S. and European regulators.

Responding on behalf of Buttigieg, Dickson told the lawmakers that the FAA “isclosely monitoring how EASA is approaching ongoing validation projects.” The U.S./EU Safety Agreement includes procedures to facilitate a more efficient process to get U.S. and European products into the market while enabling regulators to focus on higher safety issues, he noted.

“It is always a CAA’s prerogative to exercise additional scrutiny as it validates the certification work of another CAA,” Dickson said. “However, there is a limit to what a CAA can reasonably insist on as part of its overall validation process of U.S. products and still conform to the principles established in a bilateral aviation safety agreement.” edge of the business jet industry with AIN’s free daily newsletter.

Dickson credited the U.S./EU Safety Agreement with steadily reducing the duplication of work done by both organizations since its implementation in 2011. “This reduction allows both FAA and EASA to concentrate on new technology and higher risk safety issues,” he said.

The lawmakers said they appreciated the Administrator’s efforts and added they would continue to monitor the Administration’s and EASA’s actions under the bilateral agreement. “When it comes to international aviation safety agreements with the EU or any other nation, the FAA and DOT are responsible for ensuring that those agreements are upheld and that our government fully supports the FAA’s gold-standard processes and professionals,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Link to JDA Journal web page

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