Brexit & Aviation 102

UK Prime Minister (PM) Johnson’s Brexit meeting with the European Union’s Juncker was said to be “constructive” and contact between the two sides will now be stepped up.  I must wonder with amassment at this summary given that there are only 44 days left on the clock.  Whatever has been said, there’s been no change over the few days on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.  In probability terms it looks highly likely.

Meanwhile the PM insists he did not mislead the Queen over suspending Parliament.  As of today, that questionable matter is in front of the highest Court in the land.

We are facing a situation where all the existing Agreements and Regulations derived from EU Treaties will fall on 31 October.  Yes, a new Regulation does address basic contingency measure that will be available for a short period[1] after Brexit day but then it’s the land of the completely unknown.

The implications of Brexit for Britain’s aerospace and aviation sector are looked at by the Royal Aeronautical Society and it doesn’t make for happy reading[2].  Yet, Brexit supporters will continue to talk loudly of scaremongering and so called “project fear”.

Let me not paint a picture that everything in the UK is chaos and everything in the EU is fine and dandy.  The hard facts are that we all have the same problems to confront.  A recent exchange between the European Parliament (EP) and the Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on aviation safety showed serious challenges for us all[3].  At least in Brussels, MEPs get to ask questions on aviation safety.  Currently, with a suspended UK Parliament that’s not possible for UK MPs in the UK.

On another subject, commercially Brexit is looking like a bad dream.  Thomas Cook has blamed Brexit uncertainty and the weather for lower bookings and people are now on alert over the airlines possible collapse[4].

If you are a Licensed Engineer and have an EASA Part-66 Licence issued by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), be sure to check the guidance on whether you will be eligible to work on EU Member State registered aircraft in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some good aviation news for a change?  With the Brexit clock ticking to the point of 40 days and 40 nights maybe a change of biblical proportions is coming[5].

[1] Commission considers that this Regulation does not prejudge the nature of the future relationship with the United Kingdom in the area of aviation and that the exercise of competence in the Regulation is temporary and strictly limited to its period of validity.

[2] https://www.aerosociety.com/news/at-brexits-cliff-edge/

[3] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/tran/home.html

[4] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/42d537c0-d719-11e9-b098-ed106f659f8a

[5] Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time, Satan came to him and tried to tempt him.

Brexit & Aviation 101

The implications of the prorogation of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament and the inevitability of a UK General Election (GE) are difficult to fathom.  Factor in the flexibility with which rules and procedures are being interpreted and the mix is ever more complex.  It’s becoming clear that the hard Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019 isn’t a formula for a restoration of clarity, consistency and stability in the manner UK Government Ministers have been saying.

Let’s remember that a GE was scheduled for May 2022 and the last snap GE in 2017 did nothing to ease the pain of Brexit.  Moving the deck chairs around doesn’t stop the bad-tempered political rows that have become part of the daily news diet.

Although the general public had little interest in the subject until around 2015, the European question has become the defining political issue of our time.  Geography and history make the UK a European nation.  The question is that social, economic and political ties are at a crossroads.  Over the next few weeks British politicians trot off to their respective annual conferences.  All the time the hard Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019 looms in the background.

Meanwhile adjustments are being made with respect of European aviation.  Regulations adopted by the European Union (EU) in early 2019 which were due to come into effect on 29th March 2019 are now being extended so that they don’t expire until 24th October 2020[1].

It’s taken 3-years for the impact of leaving the European Single Market to sink in.  So much of what we do on a day-to-day basis is dependent upon Just-In-Time movements of good backwards and forwards between the UK and the rest of Europe.  The level playing field that has been created within the EU has benefited everyone but may have been taken for granted given its transparent success.

For a while the standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will continue to apply in the UK[2].  However, the UK will lose its strong influence over the development of the EASA regulatory framework.  In consultations there’s no doubt UK technical experts will continue to offer comments on proposed rule changes.  Such comments will be considered by EASA as they are from any “Third Country”.  That said, the UK will lose its seat at the table when it comes to making major financial and policy decisions that will shape the future European regulatory framework.

My assumption above is that the UK’s membership of EASA is terminated with a No Deal Brexit.  That means all the tasks currently undertaken by EASA will need to be taken up by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  To fully understand the implications of this change it’s to do more than a full reversal of what has been achieved since 29 September 2003.  That’s when EASA first took on responsibility for its allocated tasks.  A backward move that has no upside.

[1] https://www.gov.ie/en/news/2df90c-minister-ross-welcomes-aviation-and-transport-brexit-extensions/

[2] https://sites-herbertsmithfreehills.vuturevx.com/20/15504/landing-pages/3107e-brexit-legal-guide-22-aviation.pdf

 

End Game?

The absurdity of the “let’s just get this done” call is easy to see.  Slogans though have a life of their own, often far detached from reality.  Over the last 3-years, Brexit has been full of examples of political phrases that are more to do with tone than substance.

All the evidence indicates that UK Prime Minister (PM) Johnson is making little attempt to negotiate a deal with the European Union (EU).  It’s a simple question of judging someone by their actions rather than their words.  Yes, the PM is in Dublin on Monday to meet the Irish premier Leo Varadkar to talk about the “backstop”.  However, expectations for this meeting are said to be low.

The panicked rush towards 31st October 2019 will go down as one of the most turbulent periods of political change in modern British history.  Speculation has reached new heights as tabloid newspapers goad Mr Johnson into breaking the law.  One event is now certain.  Soon, there will be a UK General Election (GE).  It’s just we don’t know the timing.

Do the pubic just want it to stop?  That does some up the feelings that some people have even if, in their heart of hearts, they know that the Westminster’s shenanigans will not stop.  Afterall a walk away from the table Brexit, called a No Deal Brexit, will just be the start of argument and debate over possible future agreements.  All the basic questions of who, what, where, when, why and how will remain open.

Putting aside the day-to-day volatility, the overall arc of the story is that a long overdue political realignment is happening.  In the past this realignment has been stifled by the electoral system in Britain.  It takes a lot to over come the quicksand that is the First Past The Post (FPTP) way of electing Westminster MPs.

What will be the results?  Ever the optimist I think that Brexit will be terminated.  Using Brexit as a proxy to change the landscape of British politics is proving to be idiotic, messy and damaging.

Despite its history this is the end game for the Conservative Party.  The impossibility of holding together a big tent of fanatical right-wing activists and traditional one nation Tories has come to a head.  A strange brew of the Brexit Party and the Conservative Brexit fanatics will ferment to produce shabby populist group.

Labour too is wrestling with the ghosts of its past.  In 1975, the referendum was all about their divisions.  Much of what is said on the left harks back to the same unreconciled differences.  Ultimately a left-wing socialist rump of the Labour Party will persist.  This will always be the ground upon which about a tenth of the population will stand.

The real future is the rediscovery of the centre ground of British politics.  Progressive Liberalism represents the widest spectrum of the population.  It can be concern about climate change, it can be disquiet about social mobility, it can be the scourge of poverty, there are causes that need attention and for which Liberal Democrats have workable policies.

Let’s just get this done and change Britain for good.  Revoke Article 50 and get back to fixing the real problems we have in this Country.

Aviation & Brexit 100

One of the problems with using a tool like: risk assessment to apply to a big change is that of choosing a scenario that has a realistic likelihood.  I don’t know if the sale of crystal balls has increased during the last 3-years, but it is surely a good business to get into.  It’s been 1167 days since the UK European Union (EU) Referendum Vote.  This week has turned the domestic political world upside down as if we had been asleep for all those days.  The UK now has a Prime Minister at the head of a minority Government that could fall relatively quickly.

At the same time, the UK Government’s man with the fancy title; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has launched a massively expensive “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign.  This strangely assured act has not been lost on comedians and satirists.  Although the public campaign says you must get ready for 31 October 2019, the UK Parliament may have a different idea as it asserts control over the next phases of Brexit.

57 days to go and the risks of more upsets remain.  Whatever happens, be on day one or after a short stopgap, leaving the EU means that the UK will no longer be able to trade as it has for the last 40 years with the Continental Europe.

In the run up to the original Brexit deadline at the end of March 2019, UK manufacturers including aerospace companies took up stock-pilling.  That has been expensive and holding high levels of stocks undermines the efficiency of production and delivery systems[1].

The overall value of global aircraft deliveries to UK industry, so far this year is £17 billion[2].  However economic factors and the threat of a No Deal Brexit outcome has slowed production.  UK aerospace production fell 3.8 per cent in the first half of 2019, continuing a downward trend from 2018 as the impact of Brexit continues[3].

For the sake of balance, recent news is not all negative as the 2019 Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness report from the professional services firm PwC points out[4].  Although this report could be criticised for layering analysis on top of analysis.  Not only that but the historic data used derives from the status-quo being that the UK was in the EU.

It seems that reliable crystal balls are hard to come by.  Most of them tend to draw conclusions from past performance and look forwards on the basis that there’s a degree on linearity with respect to what happens next.  Unfortunately, that’s not so useful when disruptive forces act in random ways.  Brexit is a step change that is not amenable to simple thinking.

[1] https://thesiliconreview.com/2019/8/no-deal-brexit-threatens-aerospace/

[2] https://www.pesmedia.com/uk-aerospace-manufacturing-aircraft-deliveries-no-deal-brexit/

[3] https://www.adsgroup.org.uk/news/newsroom/uk-aerospace-production-slows-as-no-deal-fears-intensify/

[4] https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/aerospace-defence/insights/2019-aerospace-manufacturing-attractiveness-rankings.html