A series of meetings involving the European Commission, EASA and its Board of Management is establishing exactly how EASA is going to comply with the EC’s demand for a change of direction, and a reversion to ICAO and JAR rules where it is desirable. Sources say EASA will be instructed to put general aviation to the back of the queue and concentrate on commercial air transport, and on known safety issues which urgently need to be remedied.

EASA is overwhelmed with problems of its own making, having rewritten huge numbers of aviation regulations and sought to introduce new restrictions without any real reason for them. The reaction to its recent Notice of Proposed Amendment on Operations illustrates the problem; EASA has received 13,000 objections from industry. Some 40 percent are from helicopter operators who would be particularly hard-hit by EASA’s proposals, one of which, for example, would require all helicopters flying over virtually any water to be fitted with floats. This would be hugely costly for most operators and impossible for many, and there is absolutely no evidence of need; it would not address any known accident pattern. Yet nobody can find out who in EASA proposed the requirement, how much work was done on it, or why it was dreamed up in the first place.

The EC’s patience with EASA is running out. Deputy DGTREN director Zoltan Kazatsay wrote an impatient letter urging EASA to stop reinventing the wheel and added: “The Commission believes the time has come to take clear decisions to steer the Agency in a different direction. In this respect it is essential to carefully consider the alternative of going back to the original structure and wording wherever possible of JARs and ICAO requirements, which should be transposed into Community law.”

EASA’s ‘new direction’ is expected to be announced in the next two months, and while a respite from unwarranted new demands will be welcome, GA does not want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater. IAOPA-Europe’s Deputy Vice President Martin Robinson says: “Some of EASA’s proposals would improve safety, and they should not all be abandoned because of the Agency’s inefficiency.”