Still work in progress

Has it really been 100 days since the final, final, final Brexit day? 

The UK left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020.  A Withdrawal Agreement (WA) that the UK Government agreed with the EU, established a transition period that came to an end the day this year started.  Now, a new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has been in force for 97 days. So, it’s not a bad time to have a go at writing a 100-day review.  It’s often a period of reflection that is used to assess a newly elected politician.  It gives an indication of the direction of travel. 

Last year, although it was a top priority of UK industry to stay in, the UK has left the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) based in Cologne.  So, there’s no official UK participation in the EASA activities by right and the UK is treated as any other 3rd Country.  EU law no longer applies to the UK. Much of what was previously applied has been swept up in new UK Legislation[1]

Regulation-wise, to figure out where we are now, it’s necessary to combine the officially published corresponding text of UK Legislation and EU Commission Regulations with the EASA Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material, including amendments.  Some smart people have done this work, but the challenge will be keeping the whole paperwork construction up to date. 

Informed commentators have often said that a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) and a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) are needed between the EU and UK.  To some extent the TCA starts the ball rolling by calling for the establishment of a number of committees. 

On the basis that there’s far to much still in flux to discuss, I’ll bite off one key aviation related subject. 

Despite the massive impact of the COVID pandemic on international civil aviation there remains a demand for qualified engineers.  In many ways their roles as Airworthiness Inspectors or Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers have become even more important than ever. Traditionally, there’s no doubt that the UK has been good at training aircraft engineering personnel. Students from all over the world have gained their licences in the UK.  It’s one of the most demanding professions in the world but their dedication to the highest standards keeps flying safe. 

Whilst the UK was a member of the EASA system a licence granted in the UK by an approved organisation was recognised throughout the EASA Member States and beyond.  One of the powerful arguments for continued participation in EASA was the avoidance of the duplication of approvals, certification, and licencing. Each duplication comes with a fee and time consuming paperwork.

The political decisions having been made and that’s exactly what we now have in place. Duplication. In fact, it’s worse than that because there’s asymmetry in the current situation. 

The UK CAA advises Part 66 licence holders to take action to minimise impact on their privileges.  There are several combinations and permutations that can be considered.  There’s a useful updated section of information for licensed engineers on the UK CAA website[2]

Engineers who continue to release EU-registered aircraft to service outside the UK will need to transfer their licence to the National Aviation Authority (NAA) of an EASA Member State. If an engineer works outside the EU and UK, on EU-registered aircraft, a UK Part-66 licence will no longer be valid. 

If an engineer has a non-UK Part-66 licence they will be able to continue to work on UK-registered aircraft for up to two years after the end of the transition period, unless your licence changes or expires (whichever occurs soonest).

There’s also an exemption for engineers who hold a EU Member State issued EASA Part-66 licence who only received
or changed their EASA licence after the departure of the UK from the EU.

All of this is high politics because a Part 66 licence, UK or EU is granted on the same technical basis. Yes, there’s potential of regulatory divergence or new ways of doing business in future. However, it’s difficult to understand what the justification for any divergence might be but the possibility exists.  And as avid Brexit supporters like to point out the UK is no longer subject to EU legislation.  That has no impact of the UK’s need to meet its international obligations. Both UK and EU need to be complient with the ICAO Convention.

There’s much work in progress. Now, is a moment when it all looks like a kitten as been playing with a large ball of wool that has rolled down a staircase.


[1] https://info.caa.co.uk/uk-regulations/

[2]https://info.caa.co.uk/uk-eu-transition/licensed-engineers/

Meldrew – not by a long way!

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

The great man is not the origin of the idea that human life can be partitioned into phases. He’s the one who captured the idea in the best poetic of language. 

It was an on the sofa conversation that brought my attention to the “Viewpoint” in the Radio Times. That tells something of my stage in life. Who reads the Radio Times anyway? I don’t as a habit. On this occasion Sue pointed out a short article by Charlie Higson titled: “Old people don’t feel old”. 

I think he hit the nail on the head with that one. The COVID pandemic has brought out the worst in parts of the British media. It’s as if anyone over the age of 60 lives in their slippers, is bent double and hardly ever goes out of the house.  Call it ageism if you like. It’s all over the place.

Yes, I do watch shows about gardening, so the stereotypes are not entirely without foundation.  But just as Charlie says, the notion that people of my age are computer illiterate or never used an App in their lives is downright insulting. After all, for good or ill, we are the generation who invented the digital era.  The silicon revolution happened on our watch. 

It’s true that I often see other mature people acting as grown-ups.  Off the peg at M&S and quoted saying sensible and wise utterances. But I’m convinced that some of that’s a front. Carved to confuse younger people to give them the impression of the possession of superior knowledge. 

I have real difficulty in thinking of myself as over 60. I guess, it’s a stubborn rejection of the images of the over 60s that I had in my head 40 years ago. The world has changed beyond recognition in that time.  The kind of jobs people do, their expectations and what was considered “normal”. 

Next time, I see an advert for retirement flats where the eligibility is for the over 60s, I will speedily pass by in abhorrence.  You will not catch me anywhere near such a place until my 90s. 

So, stop it British media. Stop putting us in the later stages of our seven ages before our time. 

*Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man