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Harmonization with the European Aviation Safety Agency

In case you did not notice, the FAA, State Department (Department of Transportation), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) entered into another aviation bilateral agreement in June. This new agreement is called the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA).

You may also recall that recently Mary Peters, Secretary of Transportation, signed an agreement which is described as the “open skies” agreement that essentially allows the European Union (EU) airlines unfettered access to our U.S. market. In addition, there are many more details to that agreement that do not bode well for our industry. A previous article, Open Skies-European Union – United States Air Transport Agreement (July 2007), touched on that subject. At that time the EU Vice President for Transport stated, “the objective of our negotiations will be additional traffic rights (for the EU) and fewer (read that as no) restrictions on European ownership and control of U.S. air carriers.”

This is all done in the name of harmonization. But make no mistake about it … there are some serious implications floating out of this current arrangement that seem to look more and more like an effort by EASA to create a single management agency for all of world aviation.

As you might have guessed by now, the EASA is essentially an organization that only recently was founded to do the same thing as our FAA, but more so. EASA continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has a major presence in Washington, D.C., in order to lobby aggressively for its continued intrusion into our aviation activities. Now, by merging its safety activities with the various countries belonging to the EU (27 at last count), EASA continues its relentless move to control the aviation activities of more and more countries around the world, and more importantly, I believe, will continue to threaten the independence of the FAA.

This latest bilateral agreement, BASA, was signed by our FAA Administrator and the European Commissioner for Air Transport, Antonio Tajani.

The agreement expands the relationship of the FAA and EASA to now include exchange of what may be confidential safety information (proprietary to air carriers) with EASA and whoever else in Europe has access to this information. Not only will the information be exchanged freely, but included is a reciprocal acceptance of safety (crash reports) findings regarding design and manufacturing problems, continued airworthiness issues, and inspection and oversight of repair stations. Does this mean that the EASA will be inspecting U.S. repair stations as well as its own? The FAA says that it will be relieved of the oversight responsibility on our aircraft regarding maintenance and design certification work on U.S. aircraft in Europe. Just what is this supposed to mean? The FAA goes on to say that the agreement will create a better harmonized safety system. There’s that word again.

The reports I have read concerning the acceptance of this agreement related some reservations by U.S. manufacturers regarding the fees that EASA was going to charge for “its” service in providing what the agreement calls for — by way of attention to the job of looking after U.S. interests in Europe and elsewhere, I presume. It’s like becoming a member of a big club that we really don’t need and the dues are becoming oppressive.

Have any of the politicians even asked why we need these people and why we should have to pay for services that we can do very well by ourselves? I, for one, am continually amazed at how our politicians (and I include FAA administrators) continue to give away our jobs to European organizations without any thought on the impact here at home. All the FAA employees and others may soon be working for the Europeans and be subject to their rules and regulations without even knowing it’s happening.

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