EASA Drops Rulemaking!

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is new and improved!

On 1 September 2014, EASA announced a new organizational structure that should “prepar[e] the Agency for the challenges of the coming years.”

The most salient change is that there is no longer a Rulemaking Directorate.  I spoke with a number of EASA executives while this change was being planned and implemented and they felt that the separate Rulemaking Directorate was necessary while EASA was developing the large bodies of rules that would regulate the European aviation industry, but that such a directorate was no longer necessary now that the regulatory structure has been developed.

Many of you have heard me say that “regulators need to regulate.”  It is what they do.  And if you have regulators whose job is to make new regulations, then they will make new regulations whether new regulations are needed or not.  EASA has recognized this, and has removed the temptation to make rules for the sake of rules with this change.

The remaining directorates will still be able to develop rules as they are needed, but they will primarily focus their resources on regulating the industry under the rules that currently exist, and limit rulemaking activities to situations that require such activities.

EASA’s press release announced that “The new organisation will enable the Agency to engage more pragmatically with the aviation industry. A strategy and safety management directorate has been created in order to strengthen EASA’s overall strategy and to promote a data driven and performance-based approach to managing safety. All regulatory functions have been integrated across the different aviation domains and more homogeneity has been introduced to better enable the Agency to speak with one voice.”

Setting aside the rhetoric, EASA’s reorganization reflects a strategic recognition of what EASA wants to do to support safety as well as a pragmatic recognition that rulemaking should be driven by need, and not by a coincidental prior commitment of resources.  It is a bold move, but one that should be applauded by anyone who cares about the integrity of the regulatory regime.

The new EASA organization chart can be found online.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

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