European passenger safety is a top priority of a European Parliament (EP) Report on common rules in the field of civil aviation adopted today by the EP’s Transport Committee. The Report outlines important legislative changes in order to equip the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) with the necessary provisions to adapt to new developments in aviation like increased air traffic, the widespread use of drones, the emergence of conflict zones on Europe’s doorstep and increasing technological complexity in aviation.
A key element of the Report is to change the one-size-fits-all approach to determine the airworthiness of an airplane to a risk and performance-based approach. "Big airplanes are much more complex than small ones and they have to deal with different safety and security challenges. Simply put, a 20-ton passenger plane should in future be subject to a more stringent set of safety rules than a 700 kilo recreational plane”, said Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP, the European Parliament Rapporteur.
The proposed changes will also improve efficiency and will lower the costs for airports and airlines to comply with safety regulations. Currently, all countries have their own rules which are being applied and checked in different ways from one airport to the other. The new rules give EASA the responsibility to certify all technical standards of safety-related equipment. “We do not think it is necessary to set the same standards in Europe for all equipment used in airports and around planes. However, when the equipment can influence the safety of passengers we believe it is necessary to have the same rules. This, in turn, will decrease administrative burdens for many stakeholders involved", continued Marinescu.
Another step forward proposed in the new legislation is the possibility for EASA to give operational directives that indicate airspace that should be avoided. “We already collect all relevant safety information about the risks of flying in certain areas, but now we should give EASA the power to decide on which areas to avoid. We strongly believe that passenger safety is too important to depend on a slightly lower cost or a slightly faster travel time for airlines. In case of major incidents around conflict zones, how can one explain to families of victims that one European airline took more risks than the other?” Marinescu stressed.
The mandatory registration of drones weighing more than 250 grams is another timely safety improvement that got the green light in committee. “Drones are more and more visible in our daily lives. They create all kinds of new opportunities for people and businesses. However, it also means that accidents can happen or drones can be used to cause harm. We are therefore strongly in favour of new rules that make registration mandatory above 250 grams and that requires operations to have the necessary skills to fly a drone in public spaces. This will not affect the vast majority of the 'toy' drones that people use now”, the Rapporteur concluded.
A mandate was given during the vote to enter into negotiations with Council.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 216 Members from 27 Member States