Today, the European Parliament finally adopted a long-awaited reform of European aviation rules, through the mandate of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The vote gives the European aviation authorities powers to certify all safety-related equipment at airports, introduces a risk-based approach for safety inspections and allows the agency to advise and intervene with national aviation authorities in case of problems. Long-standing civil aviation safety reformer and EPP Group Spokesman Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP said: “Today we mark a huge step for passenger safety in Europe. This reform prepares Europe’s civil aviation for the 21st century.”
A stronger European aviation agency is needed as new challenges in today’s aviation sector have become increasingly evident, like a significant increase in air traffic, the widespread use of drones and increased cybersecurity threats. “For the first time ever, Europe-wide rules for the registration and certification of drones have been agreed. With an exponential year-on-year growth of drone-related incidents, it is quite clear that drones will be a major safety challenge in the years to come. We should never forget that drones can do harm to people, they are a significant security threat and a risk to aircraft. This is why European certification and registration for certain types of drones is the responsible thing to do”, Marinescu stated.
Crucially, the EASA will also start developing risk-based safety procedures for national aviation authorities instead of the one-size-fits-all that is currently used. Marian-Jean Marinescu continued: “Even though it’s quite obvious that big complex passenger planes pose different safety and security risks than small recreational planes, we still treat them the same during inspections. This is costly, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. A risk and performance-based approach like we adopted today is long overdue and will improve the effectiveness of our safety controls and significantly cut red tape for airlines and airports.”
Another major innovation in the mandate of the EASA is a departure from the 50s technology of the 'black box'. “We should end our dependence on the black box to find out what really happened to an airplane. Considering it is technically possible to transmit important data directly to the ground, we are giving the EASA the mandate to start up such a system immediately. By transmitting data to the ground, first responders can better locate an aircraft, potentially save lives in the aftermath of an accident and quickly provide clarity to the families of passengers”, he concluded.