The aircrew and air operations regulations contain requirements for national aviation authorities (NAAs) as well as for operators and certified organisations. These ‘Authority Requirements’ are in annex VI to the aircrew regulation (‘part ARA’) and annex II to the air operations regulation (‘part ARO’).For the first time NAAs in Europe are under a regulatory requirement to have a particular management system and to conduct certification and oversight according to the regulations.
Management System Requirements for NAAs
ARA.GEN.200 and ARO.GEN.200 contain the ‘management system’ regulations for NAAs. The regulations are similar to, but different from, the regulations for aircraft operators.
An NAA management system comprises four main elements:
- Documented policies and procedures
- Sufficient, qualified personnel
- Adequate facilities and office accommodation and
- A compliance monitoring function
Unlike aircraft operators NAAs do not have to have a single ‘Accountable Manager’, but they do have to have ‘one or more persons’ with the overall responsibility for each field of activity. The NAA’s compliance monitoring function should include a process for safety risk management as well as an internal audit function to check compliance with relevant regulations and standards.
Documented Policies and Procedures
Most NAAs have an ‘inspecting staff manual’ or ‘inspectors handbook’. This is the document that records how inspectors conduct certification and oversight tasks, such as examining an AOC application or auditing an existing operator. The manual/handbook may include checklists that are used for specific inspections or audits.
An NAA will have other documents such as training policies, reporting procedures, job descriptions etc. All of these form part of the ‘documented policies and procedures’, the regulation isn’t prescriptive about how these are organised as long as the required information is covered. Some NAAs consolidate all of this information into a ‘Management System Manual’.
Sufficient, Qualified Personnel
NAAs need to have enough ‘technical staff’ to conduct oversight and certification activities. Although the job titles vary these staff are inspectors, with a variety of qualifications and experience. Inspectors will all be qualified auditors and should be very familiar with the relevant regulations. Some will be pilots and instructors (Flight Operations Inspectors) while others will have a background in ground operations or quality (Ground Operations Inspectors). NAAs should be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient staff taking into account the size of and complexity of the industry for which they are responsible. This is typically by means of a spreadsheet listing all of the expected tasks over a period of one year or more.
Each NAA needs to have documented training and qualification requirements for inspectors. ICAO publishes guidance for the qualification and training of Flight Operations Inspectors but the detailed requirements are not yet standardised across Europe. It can be difficult for some NAAs to have technical staff with specific expertise in all of the different areas that they are required to inspect; an example is the need for Flight Operations Inspectors to be type rated on many aircraft types . There is an initiative to share such expertise between European NAAs, but it may be more convenient for NAAs to engage external experts where needed.
Adequate facilities and office accommodation
Most NAAs have adequate office accommodation for staff, but they must also ensure that they provide all the other facilities that inspectors will require to do their jobs. This might include transport, administrative staff and IT equipment.
Compliance Monitoring Function
Like aircraft operators NAAs are now required to have a compliance monitoring function. There needs to be an internal audit process that verifies that the NAA complies with relevant regulations, international standards and internal policies. There should be a feedback process that informs senior management of any shortcomings and ensures corrective action is implemented where required. There will also needs to be someone responsible for the compliance monitoring function (a compliance monitoring manager).
The organisational requirements for NAAs contain a number of other provisions beyond the basic management system requirements.
- The regulations require NAAs to make relevant regulations and technical publications available to staff (ARA.GEN.115 / ARO.GEN.115).
- The NAA needs to exchange information about operators operating in different states with the other European NAAs (ARA.GEN.200(c) / ARO.GEN.200(c).
- The NAA needs to make its documented procedures available to EASA (ARA.GEN.200(d) / ARO.GEN.200(d).
- The NAA needs to have a formal process to manage changes that could affect its capability to discharge its obligations (ARA.GEN.210 / ARA.GEN.210).
- The NAA needs to keep comprehensive records of its management system, its oversight and certification activities and of licence / certificate holders (ARA.GEN.220 / ARO.GEN.220).
What about safety risk management?
One notable omission from the list of management system requirements for NAAs is safety risk assessments.
International standards (ICAO annex 19) require every country to have a state safety programme. The state safety programme needs to incorporate all of the elements of a safety management system implemented at a national level and requires the state to establish an acceptable level of safety. This requirement is not (so far) reflected in the European regulations.
NAAs are required to implement safety risk management as one of the elements of the internal compliance monitoring system (ARA.GEN.200(a(4) / ARO.GEN.200(a)4), but it is understood that this is intended to examine risks internal to the NAA, rather than the risks associated with the aviation industry.
The role of EASA
Just as aircraft operators and pilot-training companies (ATOs) are inspected by their NAA so the NAAs are now inspected to ensure compliance with the Authority Requirements. This activity is coordinated by the standardisation sections of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The inspecting teams are made up of a mixture of EASA staff and secondees from other European NAAs.
If an EASA inspection found a shortcoming in the NAA then a finding of non-compliance would be raised. The NAA concerned would take corrective action. If the NAA did not correct the shortcoming to the satisfaction of EASA then the matter could be referred to the European Commission, who have the power to suspend ‘mutual recognition’ of certificates and licenses.
A management system isn’t a piece of computer code, nevertheless the right IT solution can revolutionise the effectiveness and efficiency of a national aviation authority. Fro more information about IT solutions see Management Systems Software for NAAs.
Can we help?
McKechnie Aviation can assist you with developing your management system. Our team have developed management manuals and inspecting staff handbooks for NAAs within and outside Europe, so we can assist with implementation of your management system including documented procedures and a compliance monitoring function. We can also recommend a software solution to make your organisation achieve more with limited resources.