Brexit & Aviation 69

Brexit has entered a surreal phase.  The days pass by, now there’s only 26[1] left and circular stories circulate like a perpetual merry-go-around.   Let’s remind ourselves that UK law, as it’s currently written means the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) on a fixed date regardless of any provisions made for that event.  When you think about it the legislation is truly ridiculous but that is how MPs in the UK House of Commons voted.

The facts are that the Brexit that the public were sold in June 2016 isn’t available.  It doesn’t exist.  MPs who are describing a Brexit “No-Deal” outcome as short-term risks are being irresponsible.  They are like the criminals who in a storm lure ships onto the rocks in order to plunder[2].  Wrecking a Country’s economy and standing in the world is well underway but there’s still time to stop it.

Aerospace design and manufacturing will be hit severely by this ruining poltical behaviour.  Today, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is responsible for the issuance of civil aircarft Type Certificates and organisation approvals in the EU Member States.  After its withdrawal, the UK will resume these tasks under its obligations as “State of Design” under the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.  That may sound fine, in of itself.  However, at the formation of EASA the UK was encouraging its technical experts to leave the UK and join the new Agency in Cologne in Germany.  That move was successful and as a result the national expertise on the certification of design and manufacturing was run down.

Detailed regulations cover the issue of aviation safety certificates for aeronautical products, parts and appliances.  These are complex, changing and subject to international agreements.   The expertise necessary to be a leading country in aerospace design and manufacturing is not easily acquired.   So how will the UK meet its obligations as a “State of Design”?  The best guess is that it will “cut and paste” the exiting European rules, regulations and their implementation as best it can.  When technical changes happen it will follow those changes.

Will the UK train up a new generation of national technical experts?  Much of that will depend on the funding made available to do so and any ambitions for the future.  In the past, the fees and charges, paid by industry were used to fund the activities of the technical experts.  That route may not be open post-Brexit since industry will strongly object to paying twice for the same service.

Even if new technical departments are created this is not a light bulb that can be switched on in a moment.  To put new bilateral agreements in place, aviation partners will need proof that new technical departments are capable, competent and properly resourced.  All of the above typically take many years not months or days.  Hence my view that Brexit has entered a surreal phase.  The reality and the fiction are widely different.  A delay is highly likely and eminently wise given the impass and the ever revolving poltical merry go around.