In recognition of the need to work cooperatively with Member States, National Aviation Authorities and other relevant Agencies, the European Community has made legal provision for these bodies to be engaged in the work of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the role of Qualified Entities (QE).
Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency (the “Basic Regulation” for EASA) defines a qualified entity as follows: ‘qualified entity’ shall mean a body which may be allocated a specific certification task by, and under the control and the responsibility of, the Agency or a national aviation authority.
Article 13 of the ‘Basic Regulation’, referring specifically to Qualified Entities, states: When allocating a specific certification task to a qualified entity, the Agency or the national aviation authority concerned shall ensure that such entity comply with the criteria laid down in Annex V.
The role of Qualified Entity is therefore viewed in the context of provision of support to EASA, specifically in the field of certification activities. The criteria in Annex V of the Basic Regulation determining the suitability of an Agency or a national aviation authority to act as a Qualified Entity (QE) have therefore been specified accordingly and, inter alia, require:
- The independence of the QE from the design, manufacture, marketing or maintenance of the products, parts, appliances, constituents or systems or in their operations, service provision or use;
- The possession by the QE of the greatest possible professional integrity and the greatest possible technical competence;
- The freedom from any pressure and incentive, in particular of a financial type, which could affect their judgment or the results of their investigations, in particular from persons, or groups of persons, affected by the results of the certification tasks;
- The employment of adequate staff, qualified, knowledgeable and experienced in certification tasks, as well as the means required to perform adequately the technical and administrative tasks linked with the certification process.
Acting as a Qualified Entity
A Qualified Entity cannot issue certificates or legal approvals. Its role is to act on behalf of EASA providing support that will enable EASA to issue the required certificates or approvals.
Use of QE’s is being approached on a limited basis. Decision 04-2009 of the EASA Management Board on “Guidelines for the Allocation of Certification Tasks to National Aviation Authorities and Qualified Entities” restricts the scope of allocation: Allocation of certification tasks to qualified entities, which are not national aviation authorities, requires further analysis and evaluation;, the scope of such allocation should in a first instance be limited to national aviation authorities.
However, at the same time, it is being recognised that the implementation of certain regulatory systems may, in future, require a relaxation of this limitation. As an example, Notice of Proposed Amendment NPA 2008-07 expressed the intention to create a lighter regulatory regime based around a new process for the European Light Aircraft (ELA). Within the consultation process, it was acknowledged that to implement the regime as intended, a revision to the EASA Management Board Decision would be required, along with the definition of appropriate accreditation and oversight procedures.