Watch Out for Brexit – That EASA Form One Might Have a Shelf Life!

How will Brexit affect the typical ASA member?  Although the full details are as yet unknown, the prima facie thoughts have been published by the European Commission (EC), and these thoughts could reflect future problems for ASA members.  In summary, UK-originated EASA Form 1 will be considered invalid in the EU after Brexit.

The European Commission published a Notice to Stakeholders detailing the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union’s aviation safety rules.  The Notice explains that when the UK leaves the European Union (EU), then from an EU perspective, this action will (1) invalidate all certificates issued by the UK CAA, and (2) invalidate all certificates issued by the UK CAA certificate holders.  Certificates will be invalid as of the withdrawal date, which is currently set for 11pm on March 29, 2019.

The Notice explains that “[t]he products, parts and appliances concerned will no longer be considered as certified in accordance with Article 5 of the Basic Regulation.”  Article 5 of the Basic Regulation provides the legal foundation for the issue of an EASA Form 1 for a part or appliance.  In a practical sense, if you have an EASA Form 1 for a new part, and it was issued in the UK, then the EU will no longer recognize it as a valid document after Brexit.  This means that parts in your inventory that bear EASA Form 1 may have to be segregated and identified as “UK” and “EU,” in order to ensure that if they are still in inventory after Brexit, that they can be directed to customers who are legally able to use those parts.
There is an grandfather-clause that applies to parts that are already installed on an aircraft.  It does not provide any safe harbor for parts already in a distributor’s inventory.
What about release to service documents issued by 145 organizations located in the UK?  These are issued on EASA Form 1 tags, but they are arguably do not reflect certification “in accordance with Article 5 of the Basic Regulation.”  This technical argument is unlikely to save those tags.  Another provision in the Notice makes it clear that:
“Certificates confirming compliance with the provisions of the Basic Regulation and its implementing rules issued before the withdrawal date … will no longer be valid.”
This would appear to apply to maintenance release documents, as well, because they are described in Annex IV of the basic regulation (and also because disallowing UK certificates as “third-party certificates” is consistent with the message of the Notice).
How do you know if a Form 1 is subject to these conditions?  Look in block one (in the upper left had corner).  That block identifies the aviation authority under whose legal authority the form was issued (usually by identifying the name of the nation and/or the name of the aviation authority).  As an example, here is a link to a form issued under the legal authority granted by France’s DGAC; and here is a link to an overhaul tag issued under the legal authority granted by the UK CAA.
It is possible that further negotiations will result in an agreement between the EU and the UK to change this declaration.  It is also possible that Brexit could be reversed.  But, absent some other agreement, the EU will no longer accept UK-based EASA Form 1 for new parts, even if the Form was issued while the UK was still part of the EU, after the withdrawal date.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

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