In accordance with Article 9 of the Basic Regulation, EASA is given the mandate to develop Implementing Rules applicable to third country operators (TCO) operating into, within or out of the EU(*). The proposed rules published in a document known as an EASA Opinion, are designed to establish a single European system for the safety authorisation of these operators replacing the various national systems existing today in the framework of agreements between EU Member States and third countries. Once the proposed rules are adopted, TCOs engaged in commercial air transport (CAT) operations must demonstrate to EASA compliance with international (ICAO) standards.
In accordance with EASA’s rulemaking process, EASA issued a first proposal in the form of a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) in April 2011 (NPA 2011-05) and received 234 comments during the 3 month consultation phase.
Based on extensive consultations with authorities, associations and operators, EASA published CRD 2011-05 on 26 January 2012 that contained an updated set of TCO rules. This CRD was available for further comments by all interested stakeholders until 26 March 2012. The Agency received 29 reactions from 11 NAAs, professional and private companies.
On 26 November 2012 EASA has published its final Opinion 05/2012 for:
Any changes made to the CRD are explained in the Explanatory Note which is attached to the Opinion.
Following publication of the Opinion, responsibility for completing the decision-making process prior to the Regulation’s publication in the Official Journal of the European Union passes onto the European Commission. The Opinion’s progress can be followed via the European Commission’s comitology website . It is advisable to search by year and for the committee dealing with these: Committee for the application of common safety rules in the field of civil aviation. As several Opinions may be negotiated in one such committee meeting it is difficult to search by rule or title.
Once the Opinion has been adopted, it is passed onto the European Parliament and Council for scrutiny. Further information and links to the documents under scrutiny can be found via the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN).
The Agency is responsible for finalising the associated Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM). As these need to take into account any changes made to the Cover Regulation and Implementing Rules by the EASA Committee, European Parliament and Council, the Decision is published on the Agency website shortly after the date when the corresponding regulation has been published in the Official Journal.
The TCO authorisation issued by EASA will harmonise and replace the existing national schemes in Europe for the technical evaluation of TCOs. The TCO authorisation issued centrally by EASA will become the only mandatory technical pre-requisite for TCOs to exercise entry permits (traffic rights) that are currently issued by individual EASA Member States.
Any third-country operator, who intends to perform commercial air transport operations into, within or out of any of the following territories:
However, a TCO authorisation will not be required for operators only overflying the territories mentioned above.
The proposed rules harmonise and streamline the authorisation process for TCOs by proposing a single, proportionate and risk-based assessment process. The authorisation process will be supported by a web-based application, which includes an online questionnaire.
EASA will commence this new task as soon as the rules enter into force and proposes the following transition phase. After a successful assessment, which will consist of a straight-forward desktop review in the majority of cases, EASA will issue an authorisation before the end of the transition phase. Operators will have to apply for a TCO authorisation within 6 months after the new rules (Part-TCO) enter into force. EASA will then prioritize and process the applications until the end of the transition period. Member States’ competent authorities shall continue to issue and renew operating permits or equivalent documents under Member States’ national law until the date the Agency has issued an authorisation or until 30 months after entry into force of this regulation.
Important note: TCOs who fail to apply for a TCO authorisation within six 6 months after entry into force or Part-TCO may face delays in their authorisation process which can potentially lead to a disruption of the operation to the EU until completion of their assessment and issuance of the TCO authorisation. It is therefore in the best interest of operators to apply for a TCO authorisation within the application period (6 months after Part-TCO entry into force).
* Although the Basic Regulation mandates the Agency to develop implementing rules for all commercial operations (e.g. aerial work), non-commercial operations with complex motor-powered aircraft as well as aircraft and crew not holding an ICAO certificate of airworthiness or licence, it has been decided that a phased-in approach would be appropriate at this stage, and therefore the scope of the proposed rules is limited to commercial air transport only.