Blog, News
US, EU near air-safety pact
March 9, 2011
  • Share
  • By

    Daniel Michaels


    a delay of almost two years, the U.S. and the European Union appear ready to

    cement an air-safety pact that both sides say should improve aviation oversight

    and save millions of dollars annually by eliminating duplicate efforts.


    agreement was reached in 2008 but languished amid opposition in the U.S.

    Congress. That fight now appears resolved. As a result, the EU on Monday gave

    its final approval of the pact, which could come into force as soon as May 1.


    thousands of business sources not available on the free web. Learn More


    the deal, U.S. and EU air-safety agencies will recognize each other’s

    inspections and analysis. That should allow the U.S. Federal Aviation

    Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to share information and

    avoid duplicating efforts, officials said.



    coordination also will help harmonize air-safety rules in the world’s two

    biggest aviation markets, reducing costs and confusion for airlines, pilots and



    longer, for example, will a U.S. manufacturer need to submit paperwork to

    regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. The U.S. has separate safety

    agreements with about a dozen European countries. The new deal will replace

    those with a single accord covering the 27 members of the EU.


    deal is “a positive signal for broader cooperation” between the U.S.

    and EU in areas such as aircraft certification and pilot licensing, EU

    Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said through a spokeswoman.


    safety agreement will allow the U.S. and the European Union to build deeper and

    broader working relationships in a range of areas, including aircraft design

    and maintenance,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood through a



    Boeing Co. spokesman said the agreement “is extremely important” for

    the airplane maker because it eases safety approvals for airplane exports.

    Other U.S. and European aviation companies would get similar benefits.


    pact’s enactment also will have an indirect benefit of improving the flow of

    safety data across the Atlantic. The FAA and EASA both collect and analyze vast

    amounts of information that allows safety experts to spot dangerous trends in

    such areas as cockpit procedures or incidents in which aircraft overshoot

    runways. Sharing such data had been impeded while the safety agreement was on



    United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization in October

    established a voluntary network to foster data sharing across borders. Industry

    officials said the network should get a boost from closer links between the FAA

    and EASA.


    no better way to create a safe system than to have two competent regulators

    looking at the same operator and sharing data,” said Bill Voss, president

    of the Flight Safety Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Alexandria, Va.


    of the most contentious elements of the U.S.-EU agreement had been the mutual

    recognition of safety inspections for aircraft-repair facilities. Commercial

    planes flying internationally often are maintained far from home, and countries

    for years have sent inspectors to assess foreign facilities.


    and European air-safety officials earlier this decade agreed that their

    standards were comparable and they could trust each other’s inspections so

    didn’t need to duplicate efforts.


    some U.S. politicians said the plan to eliminate routine FAA inspections of

    European maintenance endangered safety. Former Rep. James Oberstar in 2009

    proposed legislation mandating FAA overseas inspections, which would have

    violated the pending safety agreement and put it on hold.


    Minnesota Democrat lost his seat in November and his provisions were removed

    from draft legislation. The shift heartened EU transportation officials, who

    approved the air-safety deal late Monday.


    coming days the two sides expect to exchange diplomatic notes, officially

    sealing the pact, the Agreement Between the U.S. and the European Community on

    Cooperation in the Regulation of Civil Aviation.


    executives said the U.S. has more to gain from the agreement than Europe

    because more European planes are maintained in the U.S. than vice versa.

    Roughly 1,200 U.S. repair shops have certification by foreign authorities on

    top of their FAA certification. About 400 European facilities are certified to

    maintain U.S. planes.

    WALL STREET JOURNAL2011-03-09false