Acceptable European Union aviation scene in next few years – need for action now: European Aviation Safety Agency holds a key

01.15.2018 [0]

Acceptable European Union aviation scene in next few years – need for action now: European Aviation Safety Agency holds a key

The recent worldwide financial occurrence has taught businesses the need for prudent planning of reduction in expenses. For airlines, the prime costs relate to the instrument of aviation art – aircraft:

      1. its operation and maintenance costs;

      2. fuel;

      3. efficiency in utilization – income/expense relation in respect of routes operated by aircraft.

European airlines are already on the right approach slope – adoption of newer regional aircraft into their fleet, that is, - considering the industry offers as a whole - aircraft capable of flying the range up to around 4500 km. Yet, to achieve the goal, there is still a strategic move to make. The move that only the European Aviation Safety Agency can make.

Modern regional aircraft – those in production or conceived – aim to find the maximum financial and environmental benefit for each short and medium route flown. With each new model announced, seating and range capacity increases, meaning there is a tremendous space for competitive offers yet to come. Cash eager European carriers and the European environmental ambiance would only gain from introduction of new regional aircraft. But there is a heavy administrative burden for these new aircraft to enter the domain.

Before aircraft is allowed to fly, that is, to receive an airworthiness certificate, its prototype shall receive a type-certificate showing compliance with all relevant technical specifications determined by authorities. Under the European Union law, the technical specifications are determined and type-certificates issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency – Article 5(2)(a), 5(3) and 20(1)(a) of Regulation No.216/2008 and Article 2(1), Annex Articles 21A.16A, 21A.16B, 21A.17 of Regulation No.1702/2003. For airplanes weighing more than 5700 kg, the Agency has established such requirements by the Decision of 17 October 2003 No.2003/2/RM of the Executive Director. There have been 11 changes, the latest entered into force on 4 July 2011. The basic decision was based on the requirements established by the Joint [European] Aviation Authorities in a collection of rules entitled “JAR 25, Amendment 16” and published on 1 May 2003. Generally, as with the development of the JAR requirements, each new amendment to the European Aviation Safety Agency rules sought to improve the safety of aircraft by adding more requirements to be obeyed.

At the same time, a prototype shall comply – generally - only with specifications in force at the date of the application for certificate - Annex Article 21A.17(a)(1)(i) of Regulation 1702/2003. Because of this, the European airspace is filled with aircraft with different technical specifications compliance level. From all regional aircraft currently manufactured and allowed to operate in the European airspace (commercial titles follow) – ATR 42-500, 72-500, 600; Bombardier CRJ700 NextGen, CRJ900 NextGen, CRJ1000 NextGen, Q400 NextGen; Embraer 170, 175, 190, 195, ERJ 135, ERJ 140, ERJ 145, ERJ 145XR; Sukhoi Superjet100, only 2 were required to be certificated under the rules adopted by the Agency, namely Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen (up to Amendment 2) and the Sukhoi jet (up to Amendment 1). On a curious sidewalk to note, even the flagship Airbus A380 was required to comply with JAR 25, Amendment 15 rules; Airbus itself elected to comply with certain rules from the upgraded Amendment 16 package.

Difference in the requirements could only be justified by considering previous aircraft as simpler in their build. From the other side, knowledge, skills and technology continually advance – meaning more can be done and better. In addition, priorities for Europe are care for environment and more business opportunities for carriers that are now made more aware of the global economic realities. Balanced approach suggests removing superfluous requirements and allow creativity to flow from the aircraft manufacturing industry practice of developing new aircraft in tight tandem with airlines – great collaboration of market players. Announcement of the development of the Bombardier C series, COMAC 919, redesigned Fokker 100 by Rekkof, and Mitsubishi MRJ jet are examples of the booming trend.

Aircraft safety is a matter of risk management. European Aviation Safety Agency should reconsider the need for regional aircraft prototypes to comply with the same requirements that flagship transcontinental airliners such as Boeing 747 do. Taking the highest actual requirement level up to date – that is, the Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen jet compliance level, as a basis could be a fair starting point.

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