Flight, Risk & Reflections 8.

2-years ago I wrote: “Early in the year, prudently the EU published a series of notices concerning the “No Deal” outcome.  These were stark and based upon the UK becoming a “Third Country” with a blank sheet of paper in front of it.  That’s a Country with no special arrangements with the EU.” It seems that they (EU) were very prudent

That said, let’s be optimistic. News reports are that the UK and EU have transitioned into an intensive phase of negotiations with the aim of getting a much-cherished Free Trade Agreement (FTA)[1].  Here we are coming up to the last week of October 2020. 

Although the outcome remains unclear the wisdom of being prepared for the end of the Transition Period is unquestionable[2]. Aviation has been trying to get to grips with the ups and downs of Brexit for 4-years, but this is the real crunch time. 

As I’ve commented before, the departure of the UK from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was unexpected only a year ago but it’s going to happen on 1 January 2021. This will mean more “red tape” and regulatory costs for UK industry, but the UK Government is unmoved in its position. 

For aircraft design, UK based Design approval holders need to apply to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a UK Design Organisation Approval (DOA)[3]. The UK CAA will continue to apply the European rules as set out in Regulation EU No 748/2012 that determines the rules for the certification of design organisations. Part-21 subpart J of this Regulation concerns the Design of aircraft or the associated components.

For aircraft production, UK based production approval holders are advised to apply for an EASA Third Country Production Organisation Approval (POA)[4]. The same is true for those maintenance organisations who want to work on European Member State registered aircraft.  This is an administrative procedure within EASA and so certificates will only be issued to UK organisations, all being well, after the transition period has expired. 

A lot will depend on what’s in any EU-UK aviation agreements as to any mutual acceptance or recognition of approvals.  Now, no one is able to predict the outcome of negotiations. We all must rely on statements from the UK Government and EU Commission on the latest progress of negotiations. 

To me this is a mighty strange state of affairs. If I reflect on the detailed and thoughtful groundwork done for the creation of EASA back in 2002-3, it’s as if a everything has been thrown to the four winds.  


[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-25/brexit-talks-extended-to-oct-28-as-u-k-indicates-optimism

[2] https://www.adsgroup.org.uk/blog/prepare-for-the-end-of-the-transition-period-with-our-brexit-webinars/

[3] https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Aircraft/Airworthiness/Organisation-and-maintenance-programme-approvals/EASA-Part-21/Apply-for-a-Part-21-Subpart-J-approval/

[4] https://www.easa.europa.eu/brexit-early-applications#others

Flight, Risk & Reflections 7.

Turbulence ahead. The week past has been one of more of continuous buffeting. Are we going to see a deal not? Is the door open or closed? And so, the wrangling between the UK and the EU manages to fill yet more media headlines, but no one is any the wiser. 

To repeat one of the few certainties, the United Kingdom (UK) has left the European Union (EU) and the transition period is in place until 31 December 2020.

During the week, the UK’s Transport Minister has confirmed that a No-Deal Brexit could ground UK – EU flights[1]. Although this negative scenario is unlikely the UK Government seems remarkably unconcerned about the whole subject. There’s an expectation that the EU to bring forward contingency measures to save the day[2]. More temporary measures, more uncertainty and more contraction of services. Not a good approach to take in the situation. 

Overwhelmingly, Aviation wants the UK Government to focus on reaching a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with the EU[3]

A year ago, claims were made that a UK-EU deal would be easy, in-fact that it such a deal was “oven ready”.  It’s now that we struggle to understand why the endless wrangling continues and that the No-Deal Brexit outcome is still on the table. We (UK) are tittering on the brink of the greatest failure of statecraft since the Suez Crisis in 1956.  Then with his health ruined and his political credibility brutally damaged, Sir Anthony Eden, the British Prime Minister in 1957, resigned. Will such a fate be waiting for British Prime Minister Johnson?

Johnson says the UK is primed ready for: “Australia-style terms” if a No Deal Brexit happens at the end of the year. This is pure theatrical political rhetoric designed to ratchet up tensions and appease members of the Conservative Party. It’s blatantly irresponsible nonsense since there’s no such thing as an Australian deal. 

It’s Monday and the fourth meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee under the Withdrawal Agreement will takes place in London. No doubt the mood of this meeting will be tense. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. 


[1] https://www.cityam.com/brexit-no-deal-could-ground-uk-eu-flights-grant-shapps-admits

[2] https://euobserver.com/tickers/149765

[3] @PauleverittADS

Food and Farming

Those two words, food and farming are intimately linked.

Now, the UK Government is preventing Westminster MPs from voting on a House of Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill.  Thus, the planned UK Trade and Agriculture Commission will not be empowered to protect food and animal welfare standard in the UK. 

An unending stream of underhand tactics, lies, rule breaking, shortcuts, manipulation and deceit power this Conservative Government. They are ushering in low standards, cheap imports and industrial farming practices that will be bad for animals, bad for humans and bad for the environment. 

The Agriculture Bill provides the legislative framework for the replacement of agricultural support schemes in place during EU membership. For some people, the Brexit project was about cutting red-tape in the belief that bureaucracy was the problem. So far, the post-Brexit world is presenting ever more complex bureaucracy producing poorer and poorer results at a greater cost than before. 

National Farming Union’s president Minette Batters said: “We have the chance to become a global leader in climate-friendly farming, and neither farmers nor the public want to see that ambition fall by the wayside because our trade policy does not hold food imports to the same standards as are expected of our own farmers.”

The coming week will test if this UK Government is united with the majority of the public and farmers in not wanting to accept lower quality food imports or doesn’t give a dam. 

Common Sense

It’s “just common sense”, Government Minister says. Can there be anything more irritating than hearing that inane statement from someone in power?

Now, I admit the term “Common Sense” has been used to great effect in history. It can be said that it sparked the revolutionary war that created the States of America. Englishman Thomas Paine argued vigorously for American independence under the title Common Sense.

I don’t see modern-day politicians fired up with revolutionary fervour to fight the great evil of the coronavirus. Rather, I see a limp, lost and lazy second-hand car salesmen clinging to their jobs.

The notion of an attribute being “common” is like a schoolteacher trying too hard to be “down with the kids”. Soaking up what is though to be modern culture and showing off how in-touch they can be when in-fact the teacher is often way out of touch.

Populist politicians love nothing more than to see themselves as on the same wavelength as members of the public. If you look closely at their history and experience its often a million miles from normal. Their normal is an imagined one.

Real common sense is sound sensible judgement about everyday stuff. Naturally, we would all claim to have this quality.  However, to quote Voltaire: “Common sense is not so common.”

For something to be common it’s difficult to set a threshold. A knee-jerk reaction might be to say that something where half of people are expected to agree can be called a common belief.  Contrast that with the common things that are not so common. The Wren is one of Britain’s most common bird but how often do you see one?

Why I most object to a Minister deferring to “common sense” is the implication that considered thought, expert opinion and education are not needed. You could even ask what’s the purpose of a Minister if in the end response to COVID-19 is for the individual to make it up as the go along.

There are societies that hold the Laissez-faire way of doing things in high esteem. As a good Liberal, the sense in a policy of minimum governmental interference is clear to me. However, that doesn’t mean an abdication of responsibility when decisions have to be made. Opting for bland reassurance rather than decisive action will cost lives.

Populist politicians are the least suited to dealing with a crisis. They flit between chasing newspaper headlines and wallowing in uncertainty and indecision. When a situation turns bad, they blame the people that they were elected to serve.

Liberals are so much better because they know where to draw the line between minimum essential intervention and freedom. This is always a delicate balancing act. 

Flight, Risk & Reflections 6.

It’s almost unnecessary to say that there’s little time left to secure an EU-UK deal this year. It’s now October. This week, the European Council has a 2-day Special Summit in Brussels. They meet again at a European Council Summit on 15th and 16th of the month. There’s a European Parliament plenary session between 19th and 22nd October too. Each of these is an opportunity to converge on an EU-UK deal, sign it, and ensure it gets ratified.

It might be apparent from my writings, as well as the media reports that the ups and downs of speculation about any potential deal have reached irritating proportions. One week a positive mood, next week a negative mood while progress on resolving Brexit issues continues at a snail’s pace.

In the UK Parliament, the UK Internal Markets Bill has passed on 3rd reading by 340 to 256 votes. Thus, the intention to break the existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU has been signalled[1]. None of this peculiar negotiating dance seems to make much difference.  Extra costs, more red tape and shrinking investment continue to plague the UK economy.

When challenged about the growing Brexit costs, UK Government Ministers just say that’s an inevitable consequence of leaving the EU[2]. There’s no longer any attempt to justify new regulations other than to blame the EU.  With the UK planning to break a recently agreed deal, it makes it difficult for Europeans to have trust when ratifying the next one. 

The latest joint statement[3] coming from both side of the negotiation is short, but it does hold out hope for a deal. Trouble is that both sides keep saying the “ball” is in the others court. 

World-wide aviation continues to be buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic[4]. Millions of jobs hang on the line. Not only that but the hospitality and tourism industries are reeling as the downturn shows no sign of ending.

Recently a quote from Paul Everitt (aerospace trade body) summed up the situation with understatement: “It’s not a happy place for us to be.”


[1] https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/internal-market-bill-break-international-law-brexit

[2] https://twitter.com/i/status/1311588865896058880

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_1821

[4] https://twitter.com/i/status/1305440885212094465