Aviation & Brexit 15

So, what have I learnt over the last week?  It’s a mixture of facts and feelings.

It’s a significant week in that it’s now two-years since the UK referendum vote that resulted in a move to leave the European Union (EU).  Let’s recall that the decision to leave was based on a marginal win by those campaigning to leave and the result was unexpected.

I’m sure it’s true for numerous industrial and transport sectors, including aviation that we can say the progress made by the UK Government to secure a good exit deal is appalling.  It’s much the fashion to talk about performance-based rules in the aviation regulatory world.  If we were to measure the performance of the UK Government against even the lowest levels, they would come out with a great big fail.

With less than a year to go to the scheduled leave date in 2019, its clear that organisations are getting more nervous and extremely concerned that uncertainty continues.  At a time when implementation plans should be tabled its seems the UK Government hasn’t even worked out its immediate policies and strategy for aviation.

Having been in a hot and steamy Washington D.C. this week I’m reminded of the huge benefits of international cooperation[1].  On trade, it’s right that global competition works to deliver the best aviation services at the lowest prices.  The exception to that sentence is: safety.  Only an absolute fool would compete on safety.  To their great credit the major manufacturers and the major authorities all agree not to compete on safety.

In practical terms, that means through formal agreements there’s a growing trend to share safety information, increase transparency and to respect one another’s aviation regulatory systems.  Gradually as confidence and trust are built so these agreements have been expanded.  In fact, that’s what happened last week[2].  Advancing agreement are Europe, US, Canada and Brazil as they all have significant aircraft manufacturing activities.

Where a UK separated from Europe will sit in this mix is unclear.  There’s undoubtedly a strong wish that there will be continuity and the great contribution the UK has made in aviation is not lost.   However, industry and the regulatory authorities are subject to political risks as much as any other risk.  Risk is often looked upon as a combination of the likelihood of something happening combined with the severity of its impact.  Since the likelihood of a the most severe Brexit is increasing it doesn’t take a genius to see why people are getting more nervous and extremely concerned.

[1] 2018 FAA-EASA International Aviation Safety Conference “Achieving Safety Success in a Connected World”.

[2] https://twitter.com/FAANews/status/1009121455903297537


Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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