The text of an 8-minute speech made at “Negotiating Brexit: where now?” an event organised by The UK in a Changing Europe in London.
I’ve just noted that there are a couple of similarities between the aviation industry and the finance industry: Fragmentation is bad, industry owns the risks, and there will be some unexpected outcomes
My name is John Vincent, I formerly worked for the UK Civil Aviation Authority
Then went to Europe in 2004
To help set up EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency which is based in Cologne.
I had 11 happy years helping to build that Agency.
So, it saddens me greatly that we find ourselves in the situation that we do today
Aviation is a global and Aviation is multifaceted
It is one of the more highly regulated, just as finance, industries and there’s good reason for that
Regulation comes in the form of – social, economic, safety and with growing importance environmental regulation
It (Aviation) achieves incredible performance. If you think we are flying a billion passengers (not flights) around Europe every year
And they (flights) are done with a level of safety that they are
It proves that the regulatory system is working very effectively indeed
It’s a multifaceted industry so all these aspects of regulation will require a different or new approach as we move away from the European system
Whether it’s Design, Manufacturing, Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul
There is the Continuing Airworthiness of those aircraft that are flying
Whether it’s the Air Navigation Service Providers
I sorry about the list but it’s how many aspects there are to the industry
The Airlines who hold the Air Operators Certificates
Approved Training Organisations
Whether that’s training pilots, engineers or air traffic controllers. There’s cabin crew training
Commercial pilots licencing
The new world of drones and vertical take-off aircraft – Uber flying taxies
Flight training examiners
Even private pilots
We have spent several decades harmonising European rules
At great effort on the part of the UK
And contrary to what many Eurosceptics will tell you
The UK has been exceedingly influential in the way in which these regulations have been established
When I started in this business we had BCARs – British Civil Airworthiness Requirements
We went through a period with an organisation called the JAA – Joint Aviation Authorities
Which was like a club
And then back in 2003, we had the formation of EASA
A tremendous amount of effort and work put in by UK specialists (and many others), UK regulators
We have led in Europe
There are many other areas, apart from the ones I’ve mentioned that are also affected by the changes that are coming
Research and Innovation for example
Whether we will be able to participate in Horizon 2020 or whatever comes next
Aviation is not a static business – it’s very dynamic
Even in the area of accident and incident investigation there are now European harmonised rules
Consumer protection – another example
There are rules that give you compensation if you are delayed at the airport too long
I’ve mentioned the environment – noise and emissions
The EU has played a very important role within ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organisation
In moving forward rulemaking on the environment
It’s been pivotal in implementing change
Now, the assumption is (general) a cut and paste of the whole of the regulations affecting aviation to incorporate them in UK law
So, you will expect to see, if there is a Withdraw Agreement, a huge Statutory Instrument that takes lock, stock and barrel all the rules that are applied and embeds them in UK law
Now if that works that should facilitate a relative smooth transition
You might ask what the point in the first place is for the change
Then comes the question of – what about the future?
Will there be regulatory divergence?
Or will we continue to be members of EASA?
And will we continue, as Norway and Switzerland are, non-EU Member States but participating in the EU system.
These two Countries are relevant (to our situation). Norway has a large operator
Switzerland has a manufacturing industry
So, will we continue to be an influential force in Europe?
And thereby and influential force in the world? And I say and influential force in the world
Because you cannot believe the rate at which China is training young engineers
If we are to sustain our position as a success in aerospace
Then we have to be as innovative as our colleagues (competitors) are
The world is not stopping because we are doing Brexit
We have to (in some way) ensure that we can compete
And I have doubts that an independent UK that is moving away from this infrastructure that we have built (together)
A fellow over there asked me, before I came up to speak, is there something positive you can say?
Maybe there is
A smaller regulatory entity can be more innovative
Not so much with the Hard Law but in the Soft Law and the standards that are applied
So, if we are trying to enhance urban mobility, for example, or facilitate the use of electric aircraft and the environmental improvements the maybe a smaller more dynamic regulator can do it faster
But even then, this can’t be done in isolation
They would have to work closely with others across the globe.