Aviation Regulations Updates - Baines Simmons
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Aviation Regulations Updates

Third Country Operators

27/07/2015   EASA Committee reports on TCO authorisations

In its Information Notice (IN-2015/058), the UK CAA reports on the business of the most recent EASA Committee Meeting 8-9 July 2015. The Commission provided an update on the Implementation of the Third Country Operators Regulation ((EU) 452/2014), including specifics on the ACAS II Regulation.

EASA provided a comprehensive update of their process. They have issued 22 approvals already (from 2 July) out of the 700 applications from third country operators. EASA will only accept ICAO differences if they have been notified to ICAO and EASA is satisfied that an equivalent level of safety is achieved.

The discussion also covered non-compliance with ACAS 7.1 after 1 December 2015 and the Commission stressed the need for Member States to ensure that their operators were compliant by that date and advised that this would be a category 3 item under the SAFA programme.

Further to our article dated 23/07/2015, Third Country Operators are recommended to remain vigilant to any proposed amendments to the ACAS II Regulation.

23/07/2015   EASA reminds Third Country Operators of impending ACAS requirements

EASA has reminded Third Country Operators that, according to the ACAS II Regulation ((EU) 1332/2011), it is important to remind all operators that the EU requires ACAS II version 7.1 ahead of ICAO.

For all turbine-powered aeroplanes with a maximum take-off mass in excess of 5700kg or authorised to carry more than 19 passengers , the following deadline applies for ACAS II upgrade to version 7.1:

  • 01 March 2012 - for aeroplanes with an initial individual certificate of airworthiness issued after 01 March 2012; and
  • 01 December 2015 - for aeroplanes with an initial individual certificate of airworthiness issued before 01 March 2012

All operators should also note that aircraft not referred to above, but which are equipped on a voluntary basis with ACAS II, shall have collision avoidance logic version 7.1.

More information can be found on the EASA and EUROCONTROL websites.

Following this ACAS II Regulation (and its implementation times ahead of ICAO), non-compliant aeroplanes may be excluded from TCO Authorisation for operations within EU airspace, and EASA also informs operators that non-compliant aircraft identified during ramp inspections after 01 December 2015 may be subject to immediate enforcement action.

02/07/2015   Commission and EASA issue first TCO safety authorisations

The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued the first single air safety authorisations to 22 third country operators at Brussels on 02 July 2015. These certifications will be valid throughout the EU. By 2016, all non-EU airlines wishing to fly to the EU will be required to hold such authorisation certifying their compliance with international safety standards. The objective of this new scheme is twofold: cutting red-tape by replacing today's multiple national authorisations with a single document and maintaining high level of aviation safety in Europe.

These 22 authorisations were signed by Mr Patrick Ky in the presence of Commissioner Violeta Bulc. This new system, introduced in May 2015, complements the two existing EU-wide tools to prevent unsafe airlines from operating in the EU: the air safety list, which was updated on 25 June 2015, and the SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) system for aircraft ramp inspections.

The new authorisation system does not apply to EU airlines, which are still subject to safety oversight and certification by National Aviation Authorities.

06/05/2014   Commission adopts new Third Country Operator requirements

Today, there is no harmonisation with regard to checking safety standards of Third Country Operators (TCOs) engaged in commercial air transport (CAT) operations in the territory of the Member States. Some Member States have established an approval scheme for TCOs by requiring these operators to fill in a detailed questionnaire on its operations, crew training and maintenance of the aircraft while some Member States are satisfied with copies of the relevant certificates and statements on the carriage of certain equipment.

This lack of harmonisation means that TCOs operating in more than one Member State have to submit multiple applications for technical authorisations to the competent authority of the Member States concerned. On their turn, Member States apply their national rules with regard to third country operations, which differ from Member State to Member State. The result of this repetitive administrative exercise is a fragmented authorisation and oversight system. This is detrimental to the objective of uniform rules to ensure effective protection of public safety on the ground and on board of these aircraft and the functioning of the internal market.

According to the Basic Regulation:

  • TCOs involved in CAT operations of aircraft have to comply with the relevant standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), but the Regulation does not apply to third country operators flying over the territory;
  • To the extent that there are no relevant ICAO standards, third country operators have to comply with the relevant essential requirements set out in its Annexes I, III, IV and, if applicable, Vb provided that these requirements are not in conflict with the rights of third countries under international conventions.
  • EASA issues authorisations and continuously monitors authorisations that it has issued. The authorisation is one prerequisite in the process of obtaining an operating permit or equivalent document from the respective EU Member State under existing Air Service Agreements between EU Member States and third countries.
  • For the purpose of initial authorisations and continuous monitoring, EASA is to conduct assessments and is to take any measure to prevent the continuation of an infringement.
  • The process of authorisation of TCOs should be simple, proportionate, cost effective, efficient and take account of the results of the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme, ramp inspections and other recognised information on safety aspects with regard to TCOs.

Hence, the Commission has now adopted Regulation (EU) 452/2014, (the TCO Regulation) laying down detailed rules for TCOs of aircraft engaged in commercial air transport (CAT) operations into, within or out of the territory, including:

  • conditions for issuing, maintaining, amending, limiting, suspending or revoking their authorisations;
  • the privileges and responsibilities of the holders of authorisations; and
  • conditions under which operations shall be prohibited, limited or subject to certain conditions in the interest of safety.

The TCO Regulation consists of four Articles and two Annexes.

Annex I (Part-TCO) establishes requirements to be followed by a TCO engaged in CAT operations into, within or out of the territory and consists of three sections:

  • General requirements
  • Air Operations; and
  • Authorisation of third country operators.

Annex II (Part-ART) establishes administrative requirements to be followed by Member States and EASA, specifically regarding:

  • the issuance, maintenance, change, limitation, suspension or revocation of authorisations of TCOs engaging in CAT operations; and
  • the monitoring of these operators,

and consists of two sections:

  • General; and
  • Authorisation, monitoring and enforcement; and

To support the adoption of these new Regulatory requirements EASA has also issued AMC and GM to Part-TCO in its Decision 2014/023/R. Further acceptable means to Part-ART (authority requirements) will be developed by means of EASA working instructions via a Management Board Decision, since most of Part ART applies to EASA directly.

We consider the adoption of this measure to be of great advantage to affected operators, in that only a single authorisation is now required for CAT operations into, within, or out of the EU, whereas up to 28 would potentially be required together with the associated administrative costs and risks associated with different procedures and/or conditions state by state.

This Regulation enters into force on the 26 May 2014. By way of derogation, Member States issuing operating permits or equivalent documents to TCOs in accordance with their national law shall continue to do so. The TCO shall comply with the scope and privileges defined in the permit or equivalent document granted by the Member State until EASA has issued an authorisation in accordance with Part-ART.

Member States shall inform EASA of the issue of such operating permits or equivalent documents. After the date of EASA authorisation for the relevant TCO, or after 26 November 2016, whichever comes sooner, the Member State shall no longer perform a safety assessment of that TCO in accordance with their national law when issuing operating permits.

TCOs that hold an operating permit or equivalent document as of 26 May 2014, shall submit an application for an authorisation to EASA no later than 26 December 2014. The application shall contain information about any operating permits granted by a Member State. Upon receiving an application, EASA shall assess the third country operator's compliance with the applicable requirements. The assessment shall be completed no later than 26 November 2016.

We thoroughly recommend that all CAT operators operating into, within or out of the EU consider carefully the requirements within the Regulation together with the AMC and GM and submit a complete application to EASA in accordance with requirement TCO.300.

For clarity, the Regulation applies in the following territories:

  • the 28 Member States of the European Union;
  • the 4 EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland); and
  • Gibraltar, Åland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Saint-Martin, Mayotte

The application is considered to be submitted when the complete set of information required under TCO.300(c) has been received:

  • the duly completed application;
  • the official name, business name, address, and mailing address of the applicant;
  • a copy of the applicant's AOC and associated operations specifications, or equivalent document, that attests the capability of the holder to conduct the intended operations, issued by the State of the operator;
  • the applicant's current certificate of incorporation or business registration or similar document issued by the Registrar of Companies in the country of the principal place of business; and
  • the proposed start date, type and geographic areas of operation.

In addition, when necessary, EASA may request any other relevant documentation, manuals, or specific approvals issued or approved by the State of the operator or State of registry. For those aircraft not registered in the State of the operator EASA may request:

  • details of the lease agreement for each aircraft so operated; and
  • (if applicable) a copy of the agreement between the State of the operator and the State of registry pursuant to Article 83bis of the Convention on International Civil Aviation that covers the aircraft.

Further information may be found on EASA’s TCO page.


We would be happy to advise any affected operator in support of such an application or interpretation of the requirements themselves.