Brexit Update: EASA Makes Things a Little Easier

The European Commission published a Notice to Stakeholders detailing the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union’s aviation safety rules.  That Notice to Stakeholders had painted a bleak picture of the near future between the UK CAA and EASA, cancelling all UK approval and refusing to recognize any UK-sourced EASA Form One after March 29.  Recent updates to Brexit policy, though, have set much more reasonable short-term policies for the EU.

We’ve discussed the fact that one of the biggest problems facing aircraft parts professionals in the wake of Brexit will be getting parts from the UK (parts made in the UK or overhauled in the UK) onto aircraft registered in EU nations.  Europe has recognized that this is an issue whose effect is worse for the EU than it is for the UK.  This recognition has resulted in authority for EASA to do something about it.  EASA executives has been sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for an opportunity to do the right thing, and they have published new guidance that countermands the earlier Notice to Stakeholders.  The official European Commission position suggests that EASA will recognize continued validity for some approval documents.  The caveats are that (1) this is a limited time offer, and (2) EASA insists on UK CAA reciprocity for recognition of EU approvals [which the UK CAA has already stated it intends to offer].

The Commission will propose measures ensuring continued validity of such certificates for a limited period of time. These measures will be subject to the condition that the United Kingdom applies similar measures. Likewise, the Commission will propose measures ensuring that parts and appliances placed on the Union market before the withdrawal date based on a certificate issued by a legal and natural person certified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority may still be used under certain circumstances.

European Commission Communication – Contingency Plan

How limited is the offer to accept approvals after March 29? It appears likely that the EU will continue to recognize certain EASA-issued approvals in the UK for nine months.  This includes type certificates (TCs), supplemental type certificates (STCs), repair design approvals (RDAs), European Technical Standard Order Authorizations (ETSOAs), and design organization approvals (DOAs).  In addition, they will recognize certain approvals issued by UK approval-holders – this mostly means that EASA Form One issued by a UK-based approved maintenance organization (AMO, a.k.a. MRO).  This last provision needs to have some details filled-in by EASA, like when the EASA Form One can have been issued and still remain acceptable in the EU (is there a sunset?).

Here is the text that EASA has published on the subject:

On 19/12/2018 the Commission has adopted two measures that will avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of no deal. These measures will only ensure basic connectivity and in no means replicate the significant advantages of membership of the Single Aviation Market. This is subject to the UK conferring equivalent rights to EU air carriers, as well as the UK ensuring conditions of fair competition.

  • A proposal for a Regulation to ensure temporarily (for 12 months) the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU.
  • A proposal for a Regulation to extend temporarily (for 9 months) the validity of certain aviation safety licences.

This second proposal provides the validity extension of the following safety certificates and approvals:

The following certificates issued by EASA to natural or legal persons having their principal place of business in the UK shall remain valid for 9 months from the date of application of the Regulation:

  • Type certificates and restricted type certificates,
  • Approval of changes to type certificates and restricted type certificates,
  • Supplemental type certificates,
  • Approval in respect of repairs,
  • European Technical Standard Order authorisations,
  • Design organisation approvals.

The following certificates issued by any natural or legal persons certified by the competent authorities of the UK concerning the use of products, parts and appliances shall remain valid:

  • Authorised Release Certificates for products, parts and appliances,
  • Certificates of release to service in respect of completion of maintenance,
  • Airworthiness review certificates for ELA 1 aircraft,
  • Certificates of release to service on completion of maintenance,
  • Airworthiness review certificates for ELA 1 aircraft,
  • Airworthiness review certificates and extensions thereof.

 

In addition to the plan to contnue to recognize certain UK approvals after March 29, EASA has also reiterated that it will be willing to issue third-county approvals to UK-based approval holders (like holders of POA and MOA).  Third-county EASA approvals would permit UK-based approval holders to continue to operate under EASA jursidiction, and to enjoy the benefits of EASA’s regulations and  agreements.  This could help to ensure that the goods and services of such UK approval holders continued to be acceptable in the EU.

 

When Will EASA Issue Third Country Approvals?

EASA cannot issue third country approval for UK-based businesses until the UK is actually a third country; but our sources have said that for UK-based businesses whose applications have been processed by or before March 29, EASA intends to email the approval to the applicant on March 30 and mail a hard-copy approval to follow shortly afterward.

The European Commission Communication – Contingency Plan Annexes states the need to wait until the UK is a third-country:

Regarding aviation safety, for certain aeronautical products (ʻtype certificatesʼ) and companies (ʻorganisation approvalsʼ), the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) will only be able to issue certificates once the United Kingdom has become a third country. The Commission will propose measures ensuring continued validity of such certificates for a limited period of time. These measures will be subject to the condition that the United Kingdom applies similar measures. Likewise, the Commission will propose measures ensuring that parts and appliances placed on the Union market before the withdrawal date based on a certificate issued by a legal and natural person certified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority may still be used under certain circumstances. The Commission has invited EASA to start processing certain applications from UK entities in preparation of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.

How Much Will Third Country Approvals Cost?

Cost represents some of the best news from EASA.  Normally, third country approvals are prohibitively expensive, but EASA has capped the initial cost for UK approval holders who wish to obtain EU third country approvals.  The fee will be capped at eight hours, times the authorized rate.  The base authorized rate appears to be € 221 per hour, but it is modified by inflation adjustments so the final figure appears to be € 230.18 Euro per hour for calendar year 2019.  This appears to allow a qualified UK applicant to obtain an EASA third country approval for about € 1841.44.  Be sure to check with EASA, as these figure are subject to change at the EU’s discretion.

EASA stresses that the fee is non-refundable, regardless of the outcome of the application, and regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations.  If you need to send in a revised application, after initial payment of the fee, then the revised application will be considered as a new application, and you will have to pay a second fee for the ‘new’ application.

Because the UK applicants will be entities that were previously fully recognized by EASA, EASA intends to apply a “desk review procedure.”  Because it is an abbreviated review, EASA expects to process these applications in a matter of weeks (EASA sources have suggested two weeks as a target).

Subsequent recurrent charges will follow the fee schedule found in Commission Regulation (EU) No 319/2014, Annex Part I (Table 8 for POAs, and Table 9 for MOAs).

 

What Do I Get, if I Apply for a Third Country Approval as a UK Approval Holder?

EASA is permitting a wide variety of certificates to fall within this program.  The two most important to our readers are Production Organisation Approvals (POA) and Maintenance Organisation Approvals (MOA).

As a successful applicant, you would get an MOA or POA (depending on what you sought) with identical scope and privileges as your base UK approval.  If your application includes a variance from your UK approval , then you still can only obtain an EASA approval that correlates to your UK privileges.

As long as the application processing is complete by March 29, EASA expects to send a copy of the approval by email on March 30th.  The certificate will be valid as of March 30th .

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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 Air Carrier Purchasing Conference, and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association. He also represents private clients drawn from the spectrum of the aviation industry.

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