The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), expanding its response to a pair of safety recommendations, has proposed amendments to its operating rules clarifying requirements that apply to non-commercial flights of airliners by air operators’ certificate (AOC) holders, such as end-of-lease functionality test flights.
The Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA), published in late March, addresses recommendations by France’s BEA made during the probe of the November 2008 crash of an XL Airways Airbus A320 performing an end-of-lease test flight. BEA called on EASA to modify its regulations to include details on “the various types of non-revenue flights that an operator from an EU state is authorized to perform,” and required that non-revenue flights be “described precisely” in operations manuals, including planning, mission details and crew training.
EASA responded with what it terms “general provisions” in the regulations, but did not provide detailed guidance. “There are various interpretations on the application of the requirements related to non-commercial operations conducted under the AOC holder’s operational control,” EASA notes.
The NPA, No. 2015-05, proposes new definitions for several types of covered flights, including demonstrations, functional checks, maintenance checks, and relocations. The goal, EASA says, is to standardize terminology, which will help operators conduct more accurate risk assessments and create more suitable operational plans for conducting the flights.
“In order to have a proper risk assessment with adequate operating procedures and crew qualifications, operators need to have the same understanding of similar categories of non-commercial flights and the level of risk involved by each of them,” EASA explains. “This means having an accurate denomination of the various non-commercial types of operation, which is currently missing.”
EASA adds that the variety of terms operators use to describe the similar operations “makes it difficult, and sometimes even confusing, to identify the actual type of flight an operator is performing.” This is exacerbated when “mixed crews” operate the flights, such as at the end of a lease period.
“The proposed changes are expected to increase the level of safety as regards non-commercial operations performed by AOC holders and to ensure a more harmonized implementation of the applicable rules by establishing the minimum requirements and developing guidance tools for their implementation, in line with a performance-based approach,” EASA explains in the NPA.
EASA is accepting comments on NPA 2015-15 through June 30.
The NPA is related to several other rulemaking efforts, including one for maintenance check flights (MCF).
The MCF rulemaking’s purpose “is to help determine when an MCF should be performed and according to which set of rules and responsibilities,” EASA notes. EASA plans to issue its MCF opinion—or proposed rule change that factors in public input—later this year.