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Important explanation from the European Commission to my letter

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Important explanation from the European Commission to my letter

Old 18th Oct 2010, 16:05
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Important explanation from the European Commission to my letter

I accept your apologies.

Let me try to set out what the issue is about.

Regulation 216/2008 on common EU air safety rules sets out, amongst others, basic requirements for pilot licences. These basis reqirements will have to be followed up by more detailing implementing rules defining such requirements in much more detail. These more detailed requirements will have to be adopted by Commission and Member States (so-called Comitology) and confirmed by the European Parliament. The proposals for these more detailed implementing rules have to be developed by EASA (so-called opinions).

Last week the EASA Committee was looking at EASA's opinion on requirements for Flight Crew Licences (FCL). These proposals would, if adopted, imply that holders of Foreign Pilot Licences will have to undergo a validation process. On the basis of the assumption that the whole legislative package will come into force , as requested by the European legislator , in April 2012, the validation process would have to be terminated by April 2013. Accordingly , there is no immediate risk to the validity of your licence even if the EASA opinion is adopted without changes.

Last week, the Committee did not yet take a decision on this matter. The issue will again be looked at in December.

I take this opportunity to inform you that there is a preferable alternative to regulating the issue under Regulation 216/2008. Since 2008 already, a draft bilateral air safety agreement between the USA and the EU is technically ready. It foresees settlement of such issues through a mutual recognition mechanism. Unfortunately, the entry-into-force of this agreement has been delayed by political complications stemming from draft Congressional law (FAA Re-Authorization Act) which is inspired by protectionist elements on a number of points which are unacceptable for the EU.

Since recently, FAA officials tell us that they are optimistic to solve these political complications once a new Congress has been elected. We have to see what will happen by then.

In other words: The key for solving this issue in the most efficient way is located in WashingtonDC, not in Brussels.

I trust this mail clarifies the matter.

Yours Sincerely

Eckard SEEBOHM
Head of unit aviation policy
European Commission
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 16:17
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I am just reporting the response I got which frankly I was surprised by.
The only confirmation is that we are being used as a political football.
Apart from that I cannot see that these proposals will ever be implemented.
Maybe this should be posted in the rumours forum for wider discussion and importance in its implications?

Pace
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 16:36
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House Passes FAA Reauth. Despite Calls to Protect U.S. Jobs
UPDATE: May 21 [2009]

On May 21, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act (H.R. 915). The final bill included the damaging language in Sec. 303 requiring twice annual inspections of foreign repair stations by FAA personnel and requiring drug and alcohol testing of employees at foreign repair stations.

The House floor was the site of spirited debate during the afternoon, as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN-8) exchanged barbs with the committee's ranking member, Rep. John Mica (R-FL-7) over the potential impact of Sec. 303.

Rep. Mica, supported by House Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Petri (R-WI-6) emphasized that Sec. 303 violates the current bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) with the European Union. The EU has stated that if the language in Sec. 303 becomes law, the BASA will collapse, causing a severe impact for the over 1,200 repair stations in the United States that complete work for European customers. Armed with letters from impacted businesses and associations, Rep. Mica continued to stress that the section was a "job killer".

While Rep. Mica reeled off the devastating job losses that could result from Sec. 303's enactment, Rep. Oberstar replied that the EU was simply "crying wolf" and no retaliation will actually occur. In addition, Rep. Oberstar and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL-12) continued their claim that the amendment was based on safety concerns.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL-18), whose bipartisan amendment to Sec. 303 was killed by the Rules Committee on May 20 (see story below), claimed that the safety argument was "bogus" and pointed to the robust safety record of foreign repair stations based abroad.


Do you think Congressman Oberstar will see the wolf now?

Apart from that I cannot see that these proposals will ever be implemented.
Looks like it simply hinges on the color of the House. Republican and you'll be able to keep doing what you've always been doing, Democrat and you'll be looking for a new licence...
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 16:48
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Bookworm

With the revelations coming out on the background of these licensing proposals and motivations behind them, I was more questioning whether regardless of what the FAA do that these regulations could be put through without a serious challenge in the courts on their basis?

To those who have been writing to their MEPs I would certainly copy my letter response to those MEPs pointing out that EASA is supposed to be a safety regulatory authority not a political point scoring lever which in that process will unfairly damage a lot of European citizans.

Pace

Last edited by Pace; 18th Oct 2010 at 17:04.
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 17:00
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On what basis? Do you seriously think the European courts are going to intervene because the EC is taking retaliatory action against US protectionism?
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 17:03
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Far easier to do nothing.. That then puts the ball firmly in the EU's court.
Not sure I follow. Do nothing, and there'll no BASA, and Pace will need an EASA Part-FCL licence.
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 17:09
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Bookworm

I did not get the impression from the commission that there was any real threat of this going through in anything like its present form regardless of the FAA. But I stress that was an impression probably more sabre rattling than anything else?

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Old 18th Oct 2010, 18:13
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I think it would be almost impossible for the EC to back down from here. Much easier for the Republicans to say "Sorry EU, it was those damned Democrats being unreasonable again. Let's fix this..."
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Old 18th Oct 2010, 18:28
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Mr Seebohm seems to be a bit snowed under here.

He is no stranger to locking horns with the USA; also here.

He seems to be the head of the EC's aviation security unit, or was until very recently. Security is the most ripe area for job creation, so I would not expect any concessions on dogma from this bruiser. It's a bit like asking Gatwick's head of security whether convicted paedophiles should be given unsupervised access to children.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 07:27
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There is a missing bit to this conversation. Let's assume that some work is needed to validate a pilot's licence. The if I want to validate ny JAA PPL/IR for FAA/IR i take a simple foreign pilot's exam and a straightforward flight test much like a BFR.

Compare that with EASA's proposals for validating FAA/IR for a EASA/IR.

Edited to add: EASA is utterly disingenuous when using the EU policies as an excuse for its overbearing detail. The weight of detail is EASA's grossly overengineered and gold palted interpretation of the EU policy decisions.

They could be wholly compliant with commission policy by tidying up and SIMPLIFYING JAA regs, what they are doing is making everything more complicated and costly, this isn't about Brussels or Washington it's about Cologne.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 07:32
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European red tape is not know for it's proportionality......
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 07:35
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I take this opportunity to inform you that there is a preferable alternative to regulating the issue under Regulation 216/2008. Since 2008 already, a draft bilateral air safety agreement between the USA and the EU is technically ready.
Does anyone know anything about the draft bilateral agreement which is technically ready? What does it involve? what are the sticking points that have held up its implementation?
EASA s remit, its constitution is as a safety regulator hence I question the legal validity of using EASA to threaten! Then to publicly admit that the basis of the regulations are as a threat to force the FAA around the table?

In that process the damage carried out to thousands of innocent European citizens may surely contravene other European laws.

I would advise those who have written to their MEPs to copy and paste the commissions response to their MEPs Complaining about how ordinary EC citizens are being damaged and used for political reasons only! by an organisation whos sole purpose should be to regulate on safety grounds.

Pace

Last edited by Pace; 19th Oct 2010 at 08:03.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 08:27
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Does anyone know anything about the draft bilateral agreement which is technically ready? What does it involve? what are the sticking points that have held up its implementation?
The BASA is actually more than 'draft'. It was signed in June 2008. But it has not been ratified by the US. Apart from the foreign repair station stuff that appears in the quote above, there's also a niggle over EASA fees and charges, though the FAA didn't seem to think that was a showstopper in the articles I've read. I've been unable to find the text, though Seebohm clearly envisages that it would cover mutual licence recognition.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 08:55
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though Seebohm clearly envisages that it would cover mutual licence recognition.
A Bilateral agreement seems the obvious way forward depending what Bilateral agreement means hence my question on what is envisaged in this bilateral agreement.

Ie it could just mean more of the same (FAA licences accepted in Europe) or it could mean my FAA ATP would be accepted to work on AOC OPS in Europe?

It could also mean an easier more sensible way of converting one to the other.

We have had absolute detail on all the FCL stuff but appear to have nil detail on a bilateral agreement which is ready for signing ???

Pace
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 08:56
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Originally Posted by Pace View Post
Does anyone know anything about the draft bilateral agreement which is technically ready? What does it involve? what are the sticking points that have held up its implementation?
My understanding is that the agreement allows for the mutual acceptance of each area's licences and certifications with no/minimal validation.

At least one sticking point appears to be the US having added the requirement to comply with US drug testing regulations to foreign repair stations and for twice yearly inspections. This was added by the US on the basis of 'Safety' but seems widely regarded as just a mechanism to increase the cost base of repair stations competing against US based/regulated repair stations.

Note - the above is my understanding from press summaries not from reading the source material.

--------------------------
It is worth noting that the bilateral agreement will, if implemented, address the issue as it applies to FAA licence holders. However, the current draft of FCL restricts foreign visitors from flying in EASA land beyond a single visiting year in their lifetime (without getting and EASA licence). This is in the context where the UK validate any ICAO licence in G and the US renders valid (via the 61.75 process) any ICAO licence.


It would be amusing if the process for visitors to EASA land to use their licences is - 1 - Get a 61.75 validation from the FAA, 2 - Use the bilateral agreement to obtain EASA licence from FAA licence.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 10:09
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After some digging I found this, which is the letter outlining the EU's concerns with regard to changes implemented by the US.

My take on this is
  1. There is a big issue on the airline side where the US still requires US airlines to be 'US' thus limiting the ability of EU airlines to buy US airlines
  2. There is a big issue where the EU wants any grant of immunity from monopoly prosecution to be long term but the US wants the immunity to sunset after three years
  3. There are some rather more technical issues on inspecting maintenance operations that have already been discusssed
  4. There is actually no bilateral recongition of pilot licences in this agreement - only a hope that in the future the agreement would be extended to include such recognition

As an aside, the EU Ambassador pegs at $30,000 the cost to the repair station of a single EASA repair station inspection! Wow!!

Overall, I wouldn't hold my breath on this one being sorted quickly
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 10:45
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So far as the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act is concerned, here is a good place to start. The bill as passed by the House of Representatives is here and as it currently exists in the Senate is here. Although the summary suggests that none of the contentious amendments made by the House have survived into the Senate, this is not strictly correct. For example one of the major sticking points, Section 303 as amended by Jim Oberstar in the House, still exists in the Senate version as Section 521, although the language has been toned down somewhat.

The text of the BASA is here and, as has already been stated, deals solely with airworthiness approvals, environmental testing and monitoring of maintenance organisations. It has no relevance to pilot licensing so I don't understand Seebohm's reference to a solution to the current problems being contained withinin it.

It is clear that the EU feels that, in passing the bill, the US will be reneging on agreements already made to the extent that the BASA becomes inoperable. Given the lopsided implementation of other bilateral agreements entered into by the US (e.g. extradition from the UK) I have regretfully to say that the EU may have a point. It is, to say the least, unfortunate that so many people are being adversely affected but, hey, when did the eurocrats ever care about the people?
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 12:34
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There is actually no bilateral recongition of pilot licences in this agreement - only a hope that in the future the agreement would be extended to include such recognition
There's no suprise; it would have been astonishing if such an agreement had been reached, for all the reasons already done to death here (e.g. the USA doesn't need it, since they hand out FAA licenses/ratings pretty easily to foreigners, etc).

On the Repair Station inspection issue, the inspection already takes place, so the EU might be objecting to the drug testing. But that is a stupid thing to object to, given the obvious safety implications of having drunken/drugged engineers in some borderline "EU country" doing maintenance work on US registered passenger jets.

So there is probably more to all this than is being said openly.
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 14:35
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The drug testing requirement, especially if random, could quite well run afoul of EU Human Rights covenants

Here in Canada a number of US firms have found that their drug testing policies have had to be amended because of Charter human rights protections

There are a number of people in the US with medical conditions that require prescriptions of certain cannabinoids that have been forced out of employment
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Old 19th Oct 2010, 15:24
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I am most reliably advised that the FAA inspect Repair Stations over here, once a year, and have been doing so for years.

Doing it twice a year would be an irrelevance.

The random drug testing is indeed likely to be illegal over here, but it is probably illegal over there too...

However it is pretty obvious that nobody would actually bother doing it in "civilised" Europe, because drug abuse is hardly an issue in aircraft maintenance. Are there EU countries where it may be an issue? There are some pretty dodgy EU countries but I still don't see it being an issue - if you do anything better than totally idiotic recruitment.

So I think there must be some other bollox the EU is trying to achieve...
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