As a member of EASA, the UK falls under the European regulator's reciprocal agreement with the FAA. Once the UK leaves the EU, and so EASA, old bilateral agreements with the U.S. will buffer the rest of the aviation industry, but not repair stations, threatening their maintenance work on and supply of spare parts to U.S. aircraft.
Informal negotiations between the U.S. and UK have taken place, but the UK government has been slow to make any concrete decisions.
An FAA source close to the issue, told MRO-Network.com: “There needs to be an orderly transition [next year], so we wanted clarity by the end of 2017, but here we are in the middle of January and we still have no idea.
“There are two ways for the UK to go. One is to create a Swiss-type of agreement, that is separate from EASA, but recognised by it and so also the FAA.” That solution would largely be a legal matter, relatively simple to implement.
The alternative is for the FAA to certify every UK repair station. This would take years to complete and the cost of employing auditors would be considerable.
The source stressed that is outcome is still only a matter of inefficiency, and safety would not be an issue. “Work continues, with a couple of teams going back and forth to draft a broad implementation plan and to develop safety nets to minimize disruption.
“Even so, this involves doubling up resources, having to create tandem tracks that cover both outcomes,” the source added. “That’s just a waste. Really, there comes a point where the UK has just got to pick a team.”