Aviation safety if there’s no Brexit deal: What will it mean for you?

In September 2018 the UK government published guidance to passengers, the aviation industry and the public about the action it is taking to prepare for a ‘no deal Brexit’. The guidance covers the implications for aircraft registrations, pilot licences, Air Operator’s Certificates and Approved Training Organisations.

EU Position

There are no surprises in the guidance about the EU position. The EU will continue to comply with EU regulations. These allow for the mutual recognition of licences and certificates issued by EASA Member States, but do not provide for the same recognition of licences and certificates issued by Third Countries. As the UK will be a ‘Third Country’ after leaving the EU it will have the same status as any other ‘ICAO Contracting State’.

UK Position

There is some new information about the position that the UK will adopt. The UK will continue to recognise licences, certificates and approvals issued by the EASA States for at least two years following Brexit and the UK will no longer impose nationality restrictions on the ownership of UK airlines.

See the below for specific information about what Brexit may mean for you:

Pilots

Pilots holding a ‘Part-FCL’ licence will still be able to operate aircraft UK-registered aircraft regardless of whether their licences were issued by the UK or another EASA State. For licences issued by States other than the UK a validation will be required, but we can expect this validation to be issued ‘automatically’, i.e. the CAA will issue a notice validating all Part-FCL licences for UK-registered aircraft and individual pilots will print a copy of the notice and keep it with their licence.

Pilots holding licences issued by the UK CAA will only be entitled to operate UK-registered aircraft. Any pilot expecting to operate an aircraft registered in the EU after March 2019 would be well advised to apply for a transfer of State of Licence Issue as soon as possible.

Maintenance

Operators of UK-registered aircraft will be able to have maintenance conducted by organisations approved in accordance with EASA regulations regardless of whether the approval was issued by the UK, another EU State or EASA itself (as now). Operators of aircraft registered in the EU-27 States will not be able to use UK-approved maintenance organisations after Brexit.

UK based maintenance organisations that intend to work on EU-27 registered aircraft after March 2019 will need to apply directly to EASA for approval once the UK is a ‘third country’. On 2nd October EASA announced that they will start accepting application for approvals from UK based organisations in case there is ‘no deal’.

Cabin Crew

Cabin Crew operating on commercial services are required to hold an ‘attestation of initial training’. As for pilot licences the UK would continue to recognise an attestation issued in any EU State for at least two years following Brexit, so cabin crew working for UK operators would not be affected. Cabin Crew working for EU-27 operators but holding attestations issued in the UK could be affected. This would apply to cabin crew who started flying with a UK airline and then moved to another EU operator or flying for an EU-27 operator but who completed their initial training with an organisation in the UK.

Pilot Training

The UK CAA will continue to recognise approved training organisations (ATO) from any EASA State and those approved by EASA itself for at least two years. Pilots can therefore continue to take training for UK licences, ratings renewals etc. at any ‘EASA’ ATO. ATOs approved by the UK CAA will be able to provide training only for UK licence holders after March 2019.

Pilots who have started training with a UK ATO before March 2019 should not expect to be issued with licences or ratings by any of the EU-27 States after then. UK licences will not be valid to operate EU-registered aircraft. UK ATOs should be making contingency plans to have their trainees transferred to non-UK ATOs before March 2019.

On 2nd October EASA announced that they will start accepting application for approvals from UK based organisations in case there is ‘no deal’.

Commercial Aircraft operators

After Brexit the UK will introduce its own ‘Third Country Operator’ (TCO) requirements. This will mean that any foreign airline (EU or non-EU) will need to be granted a ‘TCO Authorisation’ by the UK CAA. In the long term this will be a substantial job-creation scheme for the CAA. In the short term the CAA will authorise EU Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) holders and all airlines that have been issued with a TCO approval by EASA.

Separate guidance issued by the UK government says that EU airlines will need a foreign carrier permit in order to fly to the UK, but that the government anticipates granting permissions to EU airlines to continue to operate. There is no guarantee that the EU, or individual EU states, will reciprocate. UK airlines will need to apply for TCO approval from EASA as well as foreign carrier permits from the countries to which they intend to operate. EU airlines will no longer be able to operate UK domestic services and UK airlines will not be able to operate intra-EU services (e.g. Paris to Milan). A number of airlines have started contingency planning by establishing affiliated companies with AOCs in both the UK and the EU-27 States.

Services between the UK and non-EU States would mostly be unaffected by Brexit. There are a handful of routes that rely on international agreements between the EU and another State but most routes are governed by Air Service Agreements (ASA) directly between the UK and the other country involved. A significant (and well hidden) announcement in the notice is that the ‘UK would not impose nationality restrictions on the conditions for an operating licence’ following Brexit, so UK airlines would not need to be majority owned by UK nationals.

Non-commercial aircraft operators

Non-commercial aircraft operators don’t need approvals and authorisations in the same way as commercial aircraft operators. For operators whose aircraft are registered in the UK there will be minimal impact. Operators whose aircraft are registered in the ‘EU-27’ could be affected by the changes to pilot licensing, training and maintenance requirements.

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