Aircraft Operations - Regulatory Safety Oversight

Airline Operators and CAAs/NAAs, do you have a good understanding of the responsibilities of States, Operators and Service Providers in a contract? 


JAA TO, 1 March 2018, The Netherlands

When concluding a Commercial Agreement in aviation, professionals from Airline Operators and CAAs/NAAs must have a good understanding of the responsibilities of States, Operators, Service Providers and Sub-contractors. In this interview, the JAA TO instructor Ludo explains about the regulatory safety oversight of aircraft operations, bringing light to the importance of understanding it properly, whether you are from the industry or authority.

JAA TO: For a start, could you please explain where the idea of this course came from? 
Ludo: The idea of this training comes from the times when I was delivering training at clients’ locations. The teaching always had a specific purpose, but aircraft safety oversight was frequently of interest to many.

JAA TO: Is this the main topic of this new course?
Ludo: First of all, I have to explain the basis, where all the regulations come from, and for who they are applicable, because it is quite complicated. If you are European, I will explain all the European regulations. Otherwise, I will stick to ICAO or the applicable regulation from your region, like Africa, for example. After I provide course participants a good understanding of ICAO and its annexes, then I will talk about the State Safety Oversight System, how it works, the tasks and responsibilities of the CAA.

JAA TO: Are the tasks and responsibilities of CAAs relevant for Operators?
Ludo: Sure, because the CAA is liable and there are more than 30 CAAs not approved by ICAO. That means that if you are an Operator and safety oversight has to be guaranteed by a banned CAA, you may not fly to Europe. There are large consequences. Regarding lease aircraft safety oversight, for example, if an ICAO audit concludes that the CAA is not attending requirements anymore, it will affect leasing Operators.

JAA TO: What is leasing exactly and why do you mention this case?
Ludo: There are different types of leasing. For example, operational lease, financial lease, and so on. In a financial lease, in fact you buy an aircraft, in monthly installments. After four or five years, you pay a balloon (it is how the industry call “the final amount”) and then the aircraft becomes your property. In an operational lease, however, the aircraft is not your property, but you have to register the aircraft in your country anyway, which means the CAA of your country will have the safety oversight over it. The implications are completely different in both cases and many have questions about it.

JAA TO: What is the difference in implications on a financial and operational leasing?
Ludo: In an operational lease, there can be a conflict of interest, when, for example, the aircraft is American but it is registered in Europe. “Do I have to comply with the European or American regulations?”, many ask. In this case, now you’d have to comply with Europe but, in some years, when you return the aircraft, you’d have to comply with the FAA. The leading line is: if the aircraft is registered in a certain country, the national CAA has the safety oversight. Still, in specific cases there is conflict.

JAA TO: During the new course, do you present possible solutions for specific cases or conflicts?
Ludo: Yes. For example, if the CAA where the aircraft is registered is not able to guarantee the safety oversight, because it has not been approved by ICAO as a whole, it can still confirm some items of safety oversight and have another civil aviation authority, from another country, which is judged by ICAO as more competent, to confirm the safety oversight of the rest of the items. Another country may take responsibility and that is regulated, but few people are aware.

JAA TO: And in the case of the aircraft coming from one country and operating in another? Could it be that they obey to both laws, for instance, FAA and European regulations?
Ludo: Yes, but this would have cost implications. This is why in the course I also explain the difference between a dry and a wet operating lease. These types of leasing involve contracts that are usually not very clear and easy to understand but bring huge responsibility when signed. Another similarly tricky issue is code-sharing, when one single aircraft operates for many operators. There are lots of companies who share a code and who use the same aircraft for the journey. In this case, which regulation is applicable? It can be complicated to understand, inclusively in relation to insurance. If a passenger loses its luggage, who is responsible for it? We discuss it all in class.

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