EASA: Innovation is Constantly Changing the Way Aviation Operates

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Some new technologies and some new business models are so novel that they were unthinkable a few years ago.

In aviation, even the most innovative idea or product is useless, unless the rules allow its installation or use. In this environment, which some call ‘disruptive’, rules need to be changed in order to adapt to the new needs, or even, the new reality.

One example of new business models bringing change is the one affecting the airline industry: a single airline can have multiple Air Operators Certificates from different European countries. This airline’s business model is created on the basis of a single market, where all airlines have equal rights and nationality of the owner is not a factor.

This requires oversight of remote basing and generates new types of employment. In other cases, we see the consolidation of large holding groups with several entities but one single safety management system.

We also witness interoperability/interchangeability of aircraft across operators worldwide.

These business models challenge past norms and existing rules, proposing a new way of conducting air transport utilising the rights given from the single European market.

On the technology side, the SESAR deployment offer new capabilities which in turn enable a new type of operation: Some examples worth mentioning: the concept of Remote Tower, the Ground based Augmentation System, alliances between ATM/ANS service providers within Europe but also between EU and non EU.

For the regulator this means identifying, with an open mind, any potential new areas of risk while ensuring that rules reflect objectives to be met.

It is important that such innovation are safeguarded and in a way nurtured, by ensuring that the regulatory environment provide enough flexibility to accommodate new business models and technology without, of course, any compromise on safety.

The drones are another technology which requires a new way of thinking.

Regardless of how the operational application of drones will happen from a commercial perspective, one thing is certain: rules need to foster innovation without compromising existing levels of safety. For this reason, the European proposal has been to regulate drones based primarily on the characteristics of the operation rather than the drone itself.

More rules will not result in higher levels of safety. Better rules, which are proportionate and risk based, will be more effective towards addressing safety issues. For this reason, safety rules should describe goals to be achieved or performance to be met, rather than the technological solution to be used.

With these principles in mind EASA started, in coordination with the FAA, to ‘rewrite’ our aircraft certification rules for small aircraft, CS-23.

The changes we have proposed make this a total ‘rethink’ rather than just a ‘rewrite’. The proposal is reducing the number of 399 prescriptive and design-detailed requirements, to 67 safety objectives. It enables innovative solutions to be used to meet safety objectives.

It is important that regulators keep an eye and an open mind for innovation in business and technology if they want to be in a position to support innovation.

At EASA we have decided to anticipate as much as possible and be involved in new technological developments as early as possible, in order to ensure that new technologies can be certified. It is also crucial to make use of industry standards where possible and promotes worldwide harmonisation.

Source: easa.europa.eu