A common approach to type-certification of military aircraft
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Working towards a common approach to type-certification of military aircraft

chinook helicopter in air

The European Defence Agency (EDA) was launched with a non-binding political agreement (the “Cyprus Agreement”) where all the Ministers of Defence of each participating Member State (pMS) committing their Ministries of Defence to work towards a harmonised airworthiness regulatory system to facilitate economies of scale, collaborative procurement (and cross border co-operation).  This was after an EDA study showed that the benefits of developing a full suite of common military airworthiness requirements will offer tangible savings in terms of reduced development time, initial procurement costs and will support more efficient collaborative capability. The study showed that this initiative could:

  • Generate at least 10% cost savings on industry and government’s side, and up to 50% reduction in the programme duration
  • Increase the effectiveness of support to military aircraft operations ‘in-theatre’ with a potentially wide pool of transnational engineering staff and shared common spare parts being available
  • Deliver positive effect on the levels of safety of European military aircraft due to the utilisation of harmonised best practices.

In 2008, the EDA established the Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA) Forum.  The basic idea is really quite simple:   Gather representatives from each of Member States’ National Military Airworthiness Authorities (NMAAs) around the same table in order to develop synergies between national processes and, eventually, save costs for as many users as possible.  The MAWA Forum are to develop and achieve the following ministerial approved ‘roadmap-objectives’ for adoption into pMS’s regulatory systems:

  1. common regulatory framework
  2. common certification processes
  3. common certification/design codes
  4. common approach to organisational approvals
  5. common approach to preservation of airworthiness
  6. arrangements for mutual recognition
  7. formation of a European Military JAA Organisation (EMJAAO).

Objective 4 above has resulted in the promulgation of EMAR 145, EMAR 21, EMAR M,  EMAR66 and EMAR 147 – all of which are based upon EASA regulations (which is very useful for organisation who are involved with both civil and military aircraft).   Different countries are at various stages of adopting or adapting these requirements into the regulatory systems.

Although an European initiative, it is the Australians who, to date, have been most pro-active in adopting a very pure form of the EMARs (in what they call DASRs, and readers are invited to do a quick google search of “DASR 21”)  Baines Simmons Ltd are very proud to have been intimately involved with this adoption , see our case study and the article “Ahead of the pack – Defence Aviation Safety Regulations” in the Australian Defence Magazine.

As more pMS are getting on board, industry is starting to respond.  Baines Simmons Ltd was privileged to be invited to Boeing Vertical Lift in Philadelphia to present the increasing popular TR81 course (EMAR 21 Subpart J – Successfully Applying the Requirement).  The objective was to assist Boeing in understanding the intent of EMAR21 and explore possible ways in which Boeing could set up its “Design Assurance System” (and it is essential to think of a single “Design Management System”) to efficiently meet the regulatory expectations of its diverse range of national and international customers.

What did become very evident in the workshop was the fact that that not all pMS are at the same stage of adoption – and many have adapted the EMAR21 requirements (thus complicating the achievement of the “roadmap-objectives” discussed above).  Furthermore, the “arrangements for mutual recognition” (i.e. roadmap objective 6) are not fully working yet and is evident in Boeing being subjected to multiple authority oversight and audits (some of which are even insisting that Boeing needs to compile a Design Organisation Exposition (DOE) to their indigenous templates only).  This contradicts a fundamental obligation in EMAR21.A.265(b) which requires the DOE to be used as a basic working document within the organisation.   For more on the topic of DOE templates, see our paper “The Pros and Cons of the DAOS Template

None of us should lose sight of the risks associated from deviation from EMARs in national implementation and readers are encouraged to look at what Bob Simmons had to say in 2016 in his webinar (EMARs – The Benefits of Harmonising Military Airworthiness) and his paper (Harmonising Military Airworthiness through EMARs – A Golden Opportunity).

Unfortunately, until we have accomplished roadmap objective 7 (i.e. the formation of a European Military JAA Organisation) there is always going to be the struggle to hold each pMS accountable for facilitating what the EDA has set out to do (i.e.  offer tangible savings in terms of reduced development time, initial procurement costs and support a more efficient collaborative capability).  However, even then this EMJAAO might struggle to exert its influence if it is not given teeth (i.e. authority).  This topic was discussed at the 2016 International Military Aviation Regulation Conference in Melbourne (see the presentation by the French delegation).  In the civil industry, this was the single shortcoming of the JAA.  As the old cliché goes, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been”.