EASA After Brexit

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was established in 2002 to harmonize safety, airworthiness and certification regimes across EU member states.

It is Europe’s version of the FAA, and strong ties between the two agencies mean that certification of an aircraft, engine or component by one clears a path to approval from the other.

Following the UK’s vote to the leave the EU, however, the alarming possibility has been raised of EASA losing one of its founding and key members.

If that happened, it would certainly be worse news for the UK than for EASA. ADS, the trade body for British aerospace, reckons it would take 10 years for the country’s civil aviation authority to create the necessary certification infrastructure.  

“It would be catastrophic for [UK] industry if there was a backlog of parts not being certified.  Maintaining access to the certification regime in Europe is absolutely critical as there is no UK replacement that can get up to speed quickly enough,” says Jeegar Kakkad, chief economist for ADS.

Thankfully, then, the odds on Britain leaving EASA are low. The agency’s 32 members already include four outside the EU – Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway – and it would be crazy for the UK not to seek the same status.

“Although the EU regulations establishing EASA will cease to apply on Brexit, it will be in the interests of all parties for the UK to continue to participate in EASA,” writes Keith Beattie of law firm Burges Salmon.

A seat at the EASA table will also be vital to help shape future policy and ensure that British aerospace manufacturers design products that conform to new and incoming standards.

“There are precedents for non-EU participation and this should be workable for the UK [but] this is another critical piece of the post-Brexit jigsaw which will need to be addressed,” concludes Beattie.

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