Revised EASA Basic Regulation – key takeaways for the ATM community

Written by: Fiona Ribbons
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EASA's revised Basic Regulation (BR) (2018/1139) came into effect on September 11th, 2018. The legislation consolidates the amendments made since the adoption of the last BR (216/2008) and continues to target a high and uniform level of civil aviation safety in Europe. Importantly, the new regulation updates and extends the role of EASA, laying out its tasks, working arrangements, internal structure and financial requirements. The rules apply across the European Union, and to third countries (non-EU) operators performing commercial air transport operations into the EU.

Heralding major change, the revised EASA BR affects almost all areas of the European aviation industry in one way or another. Three times longer than the previous EASA BR, it's a hefty read, so here are some key takeaways:

Scope extended to include drones – Until the adoption of 2018/1139, unmanned aircraft under 150kg remained outside of the scope of the BR. The rapid expansion of the drone industry, which is expected to achieve a $100 billion global market share by 2020, formed an important driver in revising the EASA BR. The revised BR provides the framework for the first ever set of EU-wide rules for the use of drones, which are expected in the form of an implementing regulation in 2019.

Recognition of the interdependencies between safety and security – The revised EASA BR now mandates that EASA should be involved in aviation cyber-security. New provisions allow for EASA to provide technical support to the Commission in the field of civil aviation security, where relevant to the Agency's safety expertise. Furthermore, EASA may actively share relevant information with national competent authorities and recommend corrective actions if a security threat poses a risk to aircraft operations.

Joint certification, oversight and enforcement system - Whereas oversight within a Member State was previously deemed the responsibility of that State's relevant competent authority, there are now more options for transferring responsibilities and resourcing certification and oversight tasks. For example, a pool of aviation inspectors is envisaged, enabling a Member State to call upon inspectors with specialist knowledge to support them for specific tasks. In addition, provisions are included that enable Member States to request either EASA, or another Member State to take over responsibility for certain tasks. These new mechanisms will be further scoped by the Agency over the next few years.

Proportionate and risk-based rules – Greater flexibility in the application of rules and approach to oversight are incorporated into the new regulation. This should enable a more resource-efficient approach to ensuring safety, allowing relevant stakeholders to focus their efforts on the areas posing the greatest risks. It is also hoped the less restrictive rules will encourage innovation.

The real impact of the new rules is still unclear, as many things are still to be defined in new Implementing Rules. However, what is clear is that the revised BR lays the foundations for potentially drastic changes in the aviation landscape in the years to come.

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