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. 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) 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.
 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.