The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Sept. 1 unveiled a revamped organizational structure that adds a strategy and safety management (SSM) directorate designed “to promote a data-driven and performance-based approach to managing safety,” the agency states.
The new structure includes three primary, industry-facing directorates: flight standards, certification, and SSM. A fourth, the resources and support directorate, provides general assistance to the others.
The new SSM directorate houses two units that underscore the agency’s increasing focus on data—safety intelligence and performance, and safety analysis and research. It also set up an international cooperation office to liaise with foreign civil aviation authorities and other industry stakeholders.
“This new organization will reinforce the role of EASA at the center of the European aviation regulatory system, in partnership with the member states and in support of the growth and development of the aviation industry,” says Patrick Ky, EASA’s executive director.
Formed in 2003 and declared fully operational five years later, EASA now has a staff of 700—compared to fewer than 100 at the end of 2004, its first full year of operations—and a budget of €162 million ($208 million). Fees paid by European Union (EU) operators and certificate holders fund 72% of EASA’s budget, 21% comes from the EU budget directly, and the remainder is raised through other channels, such as fees paid by foreign repair stations that have EASA certificates.
The reorganization comes amid EASA’s proposal to change the regulation that underpins its operation. Earlier this year, it requested industry input on what its new “basic regulation,” released in 2008, should look like. Suggested changes include revamping the focus on aviation safety, broadening the agency’s regulatory reach beyond safety, ensuring the balance between EASA and its member states is appropriate, and formation of a European-wide aircraft registry, as opposed to the current state-level process.
EASA also asked if the current funding mechanisms, which rely on the EU for 20% or more of annual funds and is therefore susceptible to pan-European budget constraints, is reasonable.
“[T]here is a need to provide for a flexible system whereby EASA is ready to meet the needs of Europe’s aeronautical industry and remains ready to respond to market demands,” the agency explained in the advanced notice put out for comment. “Therefore, an enhanced funding system to provide for an adequate and predictable budget for EASA in the long term could be considered,” which could involve broadening the pool of contributors to a “wider range of users of the European aviation system.”
The deadline for comments was in August. EASA is evaluating the feedback and will craft an “opinion” for consideration by the EC. Ideally, a new basic regulation will be ready by April 2015.
A version of this article appears in the October 6 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.