The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is an agency of the European Union established in 2002 by Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European parliament and the Council in order to ensure a high and uniform level of safety in civil aviation, by the implementation of common safety rules and measures.
EASA has taken over the responsibilities of the former Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) system which ceased on 30 June 2009. However, it is not a successor agency in legal terms since it functions directly under EU statute. The main difference between EASA and the JAA is that EASA is Regulatory Authority which uses NAAs to implement its Regulations whereas the JAA relied upon the participating NAAs to apply its harmonised codes without having any force of law at source. Since it is self evidently impossible to create a new Regulatory System 'overnight' EASA has had to accept large parts of the JAA system as its own whilst it develops the new harmonised system required under EU statute.
EASA states that their mission is to promote the highest common standards of safety and environmental protection in civil aviation.
The agency’s responsibilities are being acquired progressively. In 2008, through the implementation of a new EASA Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, EASA’s role was extended beyond its previous scope to cover Flight Operations and Flight Crew Licensing.
In autumn 2009, as part of an aviation package also including the second package of measures for Single European Sky (SES II), the European Community adopted Regulation (EC) No 1108/2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 and extending EASA’s remit to encompass the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services. As previously, however, aircraft used for military, customs and police services, and persons and organisations involved in such activities, remain outside the remit of EASA.
Responsibilities and Tasks
The agency’s responsibilities include:
- Expert advice to the EU on the drafting new legislation;
- Developing, implementing and monitoring safety rules, including inspections in the Member States;
- Type-certification of aircraft and components, as well as the approval of organisations involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aeronautical products;
- Certification of personnel and organisations involved in the operation of aircraft;
- Certification of organisations providing pan-European ATM/ANS cervices;
- Certification of organisations located outside the territory subject to the EC law and responsible for providing ATM/ANS services or ATCO training in the Member States where EC law applies;
- Authorisation of third-country (non EU) operators;
- Safety analysis and research, including publication of an Annual Safety Review.
The Agency's tasks are to:
- Help the Community legislature draw up common standards to ensure the highest possible levels of safety and environmental protection;
- Ensure that they are applied uniformly in Europe and that any necessary safeguard measures are implemented;
- Promote the spread of standards worldwide.
The Agency may adopt various types of act. It may:
- Take binding individual decisions by granting aircraft type certificates and by conducting inspections and investigations;
- Issue non-binding documents containing certification specifications, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material (for use in the certification process) and present opinions to the European Commission on the essential requirements and implementing rules to be adopted.
Structure and Governance
EASA became operational on 28 September 2003 as an independent body of the European Community with its own legal personality. In 2004 the Agency set up its permanent headquarters in Cologne, Germany. It may, with the consent of the Member State concerned, establish local offices in any Member State.
EASA is represented by its Executive Director. The Executive Director alone is empowered to take decisions and adopt acts concerning safety and environmental protection. He decides on inspections and investigations and is the manager of the Agency and, as such, is responsible for preparing and implementing the budget and work programme and for all questions relating to personnel. Since these decisions directly affect people and organisations, the EASA Regulation creates an independent Board of Appeal whose role is to check that the Executive Director has correctly applied European legislation in this field.
The Executive Director is appointed by the Agency's Management Board. The Board is responsible for the definition of the Agency’s priorities, the establishment of the budget and for monitoring the Agency’s operation. It adopts EASA annual report and work programme (after approval by the European Commission) and the working procedures to be followed by the Agency.
The Management Board is composed of one representative of each Member State and one representative of the Commission. The Management Board elects a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson from among its members. The term of office is three years and is renewable.
The EASA Advisory Board assists the Management Board in its work. It comprises organisations representing aviation personnel, manufacturers, commercial and general aviation operators, maintenance industry, training organisations and air sports.
The Agency's already employs some 400 professionals from across Europe assigned to several directorates. The core safety related tasks are carried out by the “Rulemaking”, “Certification” and “Approvals & Standardisation” directorates.
The Agency's budget is financed by a contribution from the European Community, fees (paid for certificates issued by the Agency) and charges for publications and training provided by the Agency.
The Agency applies transparent procedures for the adoption of opinions, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material. These procedures ensure the use of the relevant expertise, wide consultation of all interested parties and the right of each Member State to be associated with the adoption process. Special procedures allow the Agency to take immediate action in case of safety problems. Similar transparent procedures apply in the case of individual decisions.
The Agency and the qualified entities acting on its behalf may undertake the inspections and investigations necessary in order to perform the tasks assigned to them. The Agency conducts inspections in the Member States to verify that safety regulations and the implementing rules are applied correctly at national level.
EASA is authorised to conduct the investigations required in order to issue the relevant certificates and ensure continued safety oversight.
The European Strategic Safety Initiative (ESSI) (ESSI), launched by EASA, was an aviation safety partnership in Europe. Its objective was to further enhance safety in Europe and for the European citizen worldwide in 2007-2017, through analysis of safety data, coordination with safety initiatives worldwide, and the implementation of cost effective action plans. ESSI closed in 2016 and its roles and functions were reallocated to the various teams and bodies involved in the European Safety Risk Management (SRM) system managed by EASA.