As UK and EU negotiators prepare for their next crucial phase of discussions, Tim Johnson, Strategy and Policy Director, gives an update on CAA readiness for what the end of the 'transition period' will mean:
Amid the continuing negotiations about the UK's future relationship with the EU, there is one thing we know for sure: the UK will no longer be part of the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system after 31 December this year.
That is just over three months away and we understand that some businesses want clarity over a future UK-EU aviation safety agreement and whether mutual recognition of licences, certificates and approvals will be included in it.
We don't yet know what the final outcome of the negotiations will be. What we do know is that we in the CAA and many stakeholders in industry have been working out what a 'non-negotiated outcome' would look like, and preparing for it, for the last four years.
Our aim has been to create as much stability as possible for businesses and consumers within the overall framework of the UK's relationship with the EU. That is why, in partnership with the Department for Transport, the steps we have taken will mean that after 31 December:
- all current technical requirements will be retained in UK domestic regulation;
- all type certificates and certificates of release to service for aeronautical products and parts issued on or before 31 December remain valid;
- all other certificates, approvals and licences issued in accordance with EASA requirements that are in effect on 31 December will remain valid under UK law for two years unless they expire sooner;
- the UK's existing safety arrangements with countries beyond the EU will continue;
- new CAA systems for approving aircraft parts and licensing overseas airlines will come into effect;
- consumer protection for air travellers will be as strong as before; and
- aviation security standards will be maintained as rigorously as before.
The end of the transition period brings us new responsibilities too as we take on the design certification tasks previously undertaken by EASA. Our recruitment plans for a well-resourced design certification capability are well on the way to completion and necessary new processes have been tested and are in place. We have carried out a new assessment of the workload for the new function and are confident we will have the capacity to meet the challenge.
It goes without saying that all CAA-issued design, product and maintenance documentation will continue to comply with ICAO standards and therefore should be recognised globally. We have kept ICAO fully informed of our preparations and gave them a fresh update last month.
Of course, businesses prefer to plan on the basis of certainty and therefore will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of the current UK-EU negotiations, particularly given the added challenge of the current Covid crisis. But that is no reason for businesses and licensed personnel not to take precautionary actions, if they haven't done so already. For example, a UK maintenance organisation wanting to continue to certify EU-registered aircraft would need to make a third country application to EASA for an EASA Part 145 approval. We strongly advise businesses not to wait until the last moment for making the necessary applications either to the CAA or to EASA.
There are many similar examples in other aerospace sectors. Full details can be found on our EU Exit microsite https://info.caa.co.uk/brexit/, which will continue to be updated as and when new information becomes available. If you haven't done so already, please sign up to the EU exit category in our SkyWise alerting system: SkyWise.caa.co.uk For anyone relatively new to EU Exit issues, I also recommend our newly-revised short guide, which provides a summary of the regulatory changes involved in the exit from EASA.
Whatever the next rounds of UK-EU negotiation bring, you can be reassured that the CAA remains committed to making the final stages of the Transition Period as smooth as possible for consumers and businesses in the aviation and aerospace industries. We will do what we can. Achieving the smoothest transition possible depends on businesses playing their role too.