Future technologies and innovative business models were the focus of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) annual safety conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, in October.
Several panelists, including a representative from Lufthansa Technik (LHT) challenged the “legacy regulatory concept” and the limitations it imposes on organizations with cross-border operations. With 17 companies in 21 countries across Europe, North America and Asia, LHT would gain much from a single international certification approval. Contracts with commercial airline customers around the world demand that the company manage 136 approvals from 73 different aviation authorities.
To “tame the beast,” LHT has adopted a cross-location business unit that incorporates a maintenance organization exposition, IQ MOVE, which explains what it is doing in its processes and procedures, and a single quality management system to foster and support standardization of production and administrative processes. The program, along with the aviation safety agreement between the U.S. and the European Community, facilitated a single approval for LHT’s maintenance organizations in Europe, which are overseen by the German civil aviation authority. LHT has benefited from fewer and simpler contracts with its customers, more aligned processes, higher quality service and fewer authority oversight burdens.
LHT is actively supporting initiatives that would further streamline and harmonize global regulations, such as the European Union’s recent proposal that would allow an organization operating across European Union member states to request that the central agency become its competent authority. The individual member states would be relieved of the certification, oversight and enforcement responsibilities, which would thereafter reside with the central authority.
These types of initiatives are understandably popular with international organizations looking to streamline their business and reduce what LHT Head of Regulatory Compliance Werner Luhmann refers to as “auditing tourism.” Further international business development requires that regulators string together three things, Luhmann says: 1) legality, or appropriate rules and regulations for “cross-border group approvals,” 2) oversight resources, and 3) willingness by government and industry to embrace cross-border group approvals and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
“It is important that innovation is safeguarded and . . . nurtured by ensuring that the regulatory environment provides, enough flexibility to accommodate new business models and technology without, of course, any compromise on safety,” EASA’s post-event Annual Safety Conference Special states. “It is also crucial to make use of industry standards where possible and promote worldwide harmonization.”