ADS, the trade body representing the UK aerospace industry, has urged talks to ensure aviation safety arrangements between the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the UK‘s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are hammered out before the UK leaves the European Union, or Brexit.

In a letter to the European Union’s (EU) chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier, ADS, together with general aviation body GAMA, said they are concerned that urgent steps are required to find a solution to this problem.  

They have asked that EASA and the CAA begin technical and contingency planning discussions by June’s European Council, separately from the ongoing political negotiations setting the parameters for Brexit.

“If aviation safety arrangements have not been fully prepared to avoid any uncertainty over the legal status of UK certified aircraft designs and parts, or aircraft maintenance approvals, pilot and technician licenses, aircraft could be unable to fly,” ADS said in the June 11 letter.

“As we are now less than one year from the UK’s exit from the EU, the concerns of our sectors are becoming more pressing. The ongoing uncertainty on aviation safety arrangements means companies being forced to make investment decisions in the coming weeks and months based on the worst-case scenario. This does not benefit the UK or the EU27 [the remaining 27 nations] and the impact as these irreversible decisions are taken will be felt in supply chains and operations across the whole of Europe and beyond.”

The letter makes the point that “the transfer of responsibilities to EASA from national authorities in 2003 was not a smooth process: some scenarios had not been entirely thought through and aircraft were grounded as a result as companies and regulators struggled to catch up with new arrangements.

“In order to avoid a similar scenario unfolding in March 2019, our risk analysis concludes that EASA and the CAA need to urgently begin technical and contingency planning discussions by the June [meeting of] the European Council and separate to the political negotiations.”

Some airlines, notably Ireland-based LCC Ryanair, have warned that air services between the EU and UK could halt for a period of weeks if no solution is worked out before the UK’s departure.

Alan Dron