Aviation & Brexit 86

A new Conservative Party leader should be named on Tuesday, 23 July and then appointed UK Prime Minister (PM) one day later.  That’s only if the Government’s majority in the UK Parliament hasn’t crumbled.  Then the House of Commons (HoC) summer recess begins one day after[1].  The HoC returns on Tuesday, 3 September just before the political Party conference season gets started.  So, the idea that there’s time to apply Article 50 and negotiate a new deal with the European Union (EU) before the 31 October exit day is pure fantasy.  If there was unity, harmony and a convergence of positions then a small chance exists.  None of those three words can reasonably be used to describe the situation.

A lot of political talk still centres around the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and peculiar notions that it might be easier to get a deal with over 160 Countries than it is to deal with 27 Countries.  The WTO framework doesn’t cover key aspects of the UK economy, like: Aviation, Medicine, Export Licencing and Digital Data.  Often expressed as a sign of more “Unicorns”, frustration continues to grow amongst those who have gained a smattering of knowledge after 3-years of this merry-go-around.  As a result of all the nonsense spoken, there’s little doubt that Brexit is damaging the UK’s reputation as a good place to do business.

If Boris Johnson enters Number 10, Downing Street as PM then he could discard his firm promise to leave the EU, come what may on 31 October only then to see his Government fall.  Thus, the strong likelihood of a “No Deal” outcome with no implementation/transition period is looming.  Without a formal withdrawal agreement there’s only the temporary contingency measures that both the EU and UK[2] have published so far.   I’ve written about this in my Blog 61, 71 and 74.

One area of significance is how this event will impact aerospace Design Organisations (DO) who are primarily based in the UK.  Approvals issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to a UK DO, before the exit date will remain valid for 9 months from the day after the 31 October. To provide continuity, UK DO’s are being encouraged to apply to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)[3] for a national approval in advance of the exit day.  One small silver lining is that the UK CAA will not charge an up-front fee for issuing these approvals, provided the scope is the same as the EASA approval and no technical investigation is required.  After that a fee is changed for surveillance of the DO approval under a published scheme of charges.

This is one subject area amongst a large number, across many industries.  Yes, Brexit is a magnificent way to create extra bureaucracy and we will all end up paying for it in the long run.

[1] https://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-commons-faqs/business-faq-page/recess-dates/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-work-and-operate-in-the-european-aviation-sector-after-brexit

[3] https://info.caa.co.uk/eu-exit/aerospace-design-organisations/

Aviation & Brexit 85

The year’s longest day is almost with us.  This week, for the first time in a while, The UK’s Brexit is not a major topic at a European Union (EU) summit[1].   Now, the new European Parliament (EP) is in place there’s much discussion about the big jobs that need filling.   In the EU, a new team of European Commissioners is appointed every 5-years.  Appointing the President and the College of Commissioners is one of the issues concentrating minds in Brussels and across Europe.

Today’s European Commissioners will be leave office on 31 October 2019.   Coincidentally, that’s the date the UK is supposed to be leaving the EU.  It’s impossible to say if that will happen, not even with the remaining candidates for UK Prime Minister saying; that they still wish to leave.  The words of Donald Tusk, warning the UK to stop wasting time still echo around the room.

It’s worth noting that the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU will be replaced by the Finland’s Presidency[2] at the end of the month.  This is interesting given that Finland held parliamentary elections in April this year.   The new Government of Finland was appointed on 6 June.  So, there’s not much time to prepare an agenda for their term but I feel certain Climate Change will be high on the list of issues.

Potentially, that means a lot more talk about EU policies that promote sustainable and “smart” mobility.  In one direction, exhibited at the Paris Air Show are a horde of new electric propulsion systems for aircraft.  In another direction, policies include the introduction of an aviation tax at EU level and a carbon floor price[3].   No doubt this subject is going to be highly controversial.   The call for Net Zero emissions by 2050 is a major strategic shift for Europe.

Today, not all EU Countries have a flight tax, like the UK.  It’s a tax on a ticket.  Unfortunately, that ticket tax is not used to mitigate the environmental impacts of flying.  Aviation taxes, such as fuel taxes or ticket taxes, do have an impact on the economy.  If there’s not strong coordination and cooperation in the design of an aviation tax at EU level, then the danger of exporting jobs is real in what’s an international business.

Some studies do suggest that an aviation tax is not effective in reducing CO2 emissions.  However, there’s a great deal to be debated and investigated on this key subject.  I cannot believe the UK will not have a strong interest in the direction that the EU chooses to take on aviation taxes.  Naturally, it would be better if the UK was part of the decision-making process but leaving the EU with “No-Deal” rules that out completely.

[1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2019/06/20-21/

[2] https://eu2019.fi/en/frontpage

[3] https://www.aviatax2019.nl/#home


Aviation & Brexit 84

Of all the political cartoons now on display, one of the best shows a British red bus at the bottom of a ravine[1].   Having sailed off the top, and into a deep gorge it’s resting, all crumpled at the bottom.  Out of a front window is a speech bubble with the words: “I think we need to change the driver”.  That nicely sums up the UK’s predicament.  No attempt to recover the bus’s situation as the obsession is to find a new driver.  Thus, I struggle to know what to write.  Or at least, what to write that is not part of the echo chamber centred on who is be the next UK Prime Minister.  However, the message is clear; very few of the intractable problems they we face have changed in the last 3-months.   By the way, there are an enormous number of uncomplimentary Brexit cartoons that feature big red buses.

It was a year ago the UK Government published some slides called the: ‘Framework for the future UK-EU partnership[2]‘ for transport.   I must take it that these slides remain applicable.  That means the UK wishes to continue to explore possible terms for participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

I have just come back from attending the 2019 EASA – FAA International Aviation Safety Conference in Cologne, Germany.   More than 350 participants from all over the globe converged on Cologne for the 3-day event.   I think there was about 40 Countries represented.   The Countries of Europe, and the rest of the world, have a permanent common interest in civil aviation safety.   Recent events have focused minds on that ever-present challenge as yearly passenger numbers reach 4.6 billon[3].

In the time that EASA has been around, that’s 15-years, the number of scheduled passengers handled by the global airline industry has increased in all but one year.   That’s enough to concentrate anyone’s mind about safety but it also raises many questions about the environment and aviation security.

What I’m going to say now is entirely predicable and consistent with everything I’ve written so far.  Working together in this region of the globe makes huge sense.  No one Country is going to sort out safety, security and environmental challenges by themselves.  In fact, if we can’t make good progress here in Europe it would seem doubtful that we could make progress in any world region.

At the start of what’s a new session for the European Parliament, I hope that enough politicians are motivated to burst out of the negative impasse that trouble us all.  There’s a leadership role for Europe.  It only needs the will to take it.

“Good planets are hard to come by. Please think of our environment before you print this Blog.”

[1] https://www.cairnstoon.com/

[2] https://www.caa.co.uk/Our-work/About-us/EU-exit/

[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/564717/airline-industry-passenger-traffic-globally/


Aviation & Brexit 83

This week there’s been a strong message in the news.  It’s been about the lessons of history, the value of cooperation and the vital role played by international institutions in keeping the peace that we enjoy.  That’s no less true in civil aviation as it is in many other walks of life.

Until the 1940s aircraft operation, design and manufacturing activities were mostly conducted at a national level.  With the advances in technology brought about in World War II and anticipating a post-war growth in civil aviation far sighted Governments set-up what is the now the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).  This organisation formulates basic standards and practices that can applied by its Member States across the globe.

Back in my Blog; Brexit 67, I mentioned that this year is an important year for ICAO.  It’s an Assembly year[1].  Every 3-years an Assembly comprised of the Member States of ICAO meet at its HQ in Montreal, Canada.  During the first 75 years of its existence, ICAO has made an indisputable contribution to the development of worldwide civil aviation.  This is quite an achievement given the need to get agreement with its 193 Member States and many international organisations.

During the ICAO Assembly sessions, a work programme in the technical, economic, legal and technical cooperation fields is reviewed in detail.  Within ICAO, the European Union (EU) its agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)[2] are major contributors to its work.   The role and recognition of regional organisations is growing.  Its accepted that solutions need to be tailored to fit the local circumstances in global regions.

In respect of Brexit, whatever happens to the UK, as an ICAO Member State it will need to continue to apply international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).  Today, civil aviation is regulated at European level.  To make that work the aviation safety regulations agreed at European level comply with the ICAO SARPs.   However, it’s an hierarchical construction so much of the detail needed is in what is often called “soft law” and can be changed independently of the ICAO SARPs.

Even in this Brexit extension period uncertainty remains as to what you may need to do to continue working and operating in the aviation industry if, or after the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019.  The UK’s lack of clarity and direction are not helpful for anyone in who wishes to plan.   It will be interesting to see if the UK makes a meaningful contribution to the ICAO Assembly this year, as it has done in the past.

[1] https://www.icao.int/Meetings/a40/pages/default.aspx

[2] EASA is responsible for the issuance of type certificates and organisation approvals in the EU. After its withdrawal, the UK will resume these tasks under its obligations as ‘State of Design’ under the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.