The anticipated withdrawal of the UK from the European Union has been commanding an inordinate amount of attention from aviation stakeholders and virtually every other international industry.
Regardless of the “hardness” or timing of Brexit, one thing is clear—international compliance has never been simple, and it isn’t likely to get any easier.
Despite the unpredictable nature of ongoing political negotiations, the near-term outcome for aviation certificate holders has been appropriately mapped by the European Commission and the world’s civil aviation regulatory authorities to minimize the impact of a no-deal Brexit. For example, the UK has indicated it will adopt European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules as its own, although it will not (at least in the near term) be a member of the European aviation safety body. What would this mean for current EASA certificate-holders in the UK and those applying for European certification? They would be governed by a variety of measures including extensions of existing EASA approvals and EASA’s acceptance of third-country applications from UK businesses.
Maintenance organizations can take solace in the implementing procedures released in March by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (based on contingent bilateral agreements reached with agencies such as the FAA, Transport Canada and ANAC). These agreements were necessary to “ensure that the level of [aviation safety] cooperation . . . will remain the same if the UK leaves the European Union without a negotiated exit in place.” (For updates on the UK CAA’s agreements with the FAA and Transport Canada see arsa.org/brexit.)
A primary example of the nuances certificate holders will face in the post-Brexit aviation world comes from a six-year-old EASA rulemaking interpretation on “maintenance release of aircraft not covered by the Basic Regulation.” Since UK-registered aircraft would not be covered by the Basic Regulation in a no-deal Brexit, the interpretation would apply to work performed on those aircraft but not to components.
The newly signed implementing procedures (referenced above) confirm the UK CAA will accept U.S. repair stations’ EASA certificates (and therefore dual [FAA-EASA] releases) for two years. No special language is needed on FAA Form 8130-3 or other maintenance records to satisfy the UK.
The following statement is the only provision in the FAA-UK CAA Maintenance Agreement Guidance (MAG) pertaining to U.S. repair stations. There are no special conditions, as the UK CAA expects that repair stations will comply with the EASA special conditions:
Section B—Requirements for UK-recognized EASA AMOs located in the U.S.
1.0 INTRODUCTION. For purposes of the U.S.-UK MAG, the CAA will rely on EASA certificates issued on the basis of Annex 2 of the U.S.-EU Agreement for U.S.-based maintenance organizations wishing to perform work on civil aeronautical products under the regulatory control of the CAA. The CAA will not issue its own (UK) Part 145 approval for U.S.-based maintenance organizations.
EASA took a different view in its 2013 interpretation. In the pertinent part, the document states:
The national law of the State of Registry responsible for the aircraft clearly states that the release can be performed by an EASA Part 145 organization referring to the EASA Part 145 approval number (they don’t issue their approval number).
The EASA Part 145 organization performs and releases the maintenance following the regulation of the State of Registry release statement referring to the aviation code of the State of Registry, and not to 145.A., but they still refer to the EASA approval number.
EASA finds no reason to object to this practice as long as the national law allows it and the release document clearly states, to avoid any misunderstandings, that it is a release made under the State national law and not a release under EASA Part 145. Once these conditions are met, this practice falls completely under national responsibility, produces no effects on the EASA system and does not violate EU law.
What does this mean?
1. Component repair stations can still issue their dual FAA-EASA release along with their EASA certificate number, and the UK will accept it for two years. The 2013 EASA interpretation doesn’t apply to component releases.
2. For those U.S. aircraft maintenance organizations working on aircraft, per the 2013 EASA interpretation, they should state that the release is issued under the pertinent UK rule, although they can continue to reference their EASA certificate number.
For the sake of clarity on this point, the FAA-UK MAG should be amended so U.S. repair stations don’t have to choose between complying with it or the EASA interpretation.
ARSA commends the affected regulatory agencies for their work in developing contingency plans and coordinating with industry to minimize potential disruptions. Hopefully, unforeseen issues will be kept to a minimum.
Marshall S. Filler is managing member of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein and managing director and general counsel of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. The views expressed are not necessarily shared by Aviation Week.