Flight, Risk & Reflections 11.

Next year, whatever happens with COVID-19 there will be a focus on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.  In a way, the virus has already had a positive environmental impact. Less efficient aircraft are being pensioned off earlier than would otherwise be.

The European Union (EU) has said it will take part in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme from the start of its voluntary phase on 1 January 2021[1].

The COP26 United Nations (UN) climate conference will take place in a years’ time, between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Scotland[2]. All eyes will be on climate change

On the political climate, Downing Street dramas rival the most notable soap operas. That said, White House dramas still get top billing[3].  Some people raise the question: will the UK Government be more “collaborative and cooperative” after Dominic Cummings’ departure[4]?  Will UK Prime Minister (PM) Johnson now be exposed? I’m remined of the saying about being indispensable. If you think you are indispensable, get a glass of water and place your finger in it. Then remove the finger and observe the hole.

The Brexit trade talks enter another weekend with few signs of progress visible. Deadlines loom large in the volumes of commentary built on scant knowledge of what’s really going on. A crunch moment will come in the last week of November.

Some people say this PM is indecisive and will “cave in” on the UK’s relationship with the EU. I don’t think a radical change of direction is on the cards. The fundamental asks of a Tory Brexit haven’t changed. It’s a demand for privileges without the accompanying obligations. A Free Trade Area with a bigger neighbour with no constraints. Every time a constraint is mentioned the echo of sovereignty resounds around the room. It gets ridiculous as hard core Brexiters puff up their chests and say: you don’t show me no respect. 

Reality is reality. The EU would be unwise to let a powerful non-member have unfettered access to its market without contributing to the whole.  A problem with Dominic Cummings’ departure is that we are likely to see the Vote Leave people taking no responsibility what-so-ever for the world in 2021.  Instead when difficulties arise, they will apply their formidable campaigning skills to high power finger pointing. 

On the basis that the PM is an unscrupulous carpetbagger there will be a thin deal with the EU.  It will be presented as a great British success and the rest will be – work it out as you go along.   


[1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/06/25/aviation-emissions-eu-confirms-its-participation-in-the-corsia-voluntary-phase-from-2021-and-chooses-more-ambitious-option-to-calculate-its-offsetting-requirements/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-dates-agreed-for-cop26-united-nations-climate-change-conference

[3] https://twitter.com/CBSNews/status/1327461255762817026?s=20

[4] https://twitter.com/standardnews/status/1327577348959514625?s=20

Flight, Risk & Reflections 10.

Today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ran a European Union (EU) exit webinar for aircraft Maintenance Organisations (Part-145)[1].  Negotiations between the UK and the EU on aviation safety requirements continue.  This series of UK CAA hosted webinars is to update civil aviation on what the UK may look like from 1st January 2021. 

It’s worth noting that the Chair of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Sir Stephen Hillier[2] will be on a Royal Aeronautical Society webinar on the 19th November 2020.  Questions and comments on Brexit are sure to come up. It’s clear the UK will leave Europe’s aviation safety regulator at end of 2020.

I’m writing at a moment when the News is again sounding pessimistic about the UK-EU negotiations. The time remaining on the clock for a possible deal is running out. Once a final legal text is agreed there are still numerous parties who must read it and take it all in. 

In England, until 2 December businesses are in lockdown routine. Everyone is doing what they can to stop the spread of coronavirus. The time left to change how businesses operate and adapt to a new UK-EU relationship is ebbing away rapidly. 

Even in November, because of COVID-19 we are being told to open windows regularly to let fresh air in. One hope is that they are doing this in the rooms where the UK-EU negotiations are taking place. 

In a recent speech former UK Prime Minister (PM) John Major pointed out that Brexit set to be “more brutal than anyone expected”[3].  It doesn’t take much to see why. Given that the referendum vote was back in June 2016 it’s astonishing that UK-EU negotiations are not wrapped up by now.

My impression is that a referendum and the subsequent General Elections have put our entire political system into perpetual campaigning mode. The problem is that Governing mode and campaigning mode are not good bedfellows.  At this moment that clash is being played out inside Number 10 Downing Street. 

I’d like to sound optimistic but there’s more dismantling going on than building.  It’s easier to smash up the house than it is to build a new one.  


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

[2] https://www.aerosociety.com/events-calendar/raes-webinar-brabazon-named-lecture-2020/

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54879209

Flight, Risk & Reflections 9.

A month back it was said that the UK Government’s post-Brexit proposals on aviation would give Britain an unfair economic advantage[1].  There are no signs that the impasse of that time has been cleared. Far from “Getting Brexit Done” these complex negotiations drag on and on.

I’d penned a few words which have found their way to the delete folder. Now, as COVID-19 gathers pace again, the catchphrase: “We’re doomed!” comes to mind[2]. The BBC sitcom Dad’s Army and Private Frazer’s gloomy: “We’re doomed!” has become a classic moment in British comedy. As we do lock-down again, it captures the moment nicely. 

The sporadic imposition of national lockdowns and country-by-country travel restrictions have been a disaster for aviation. This crazy situation exists for both EU and non-EU States. Although the News of a potential vaccine has created buoyancy, the latest updates on the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry makes grim reading[3]

COVID-19 is devastating the aviation and tourist industry. Add a clumsy exit to the transition period between UK and EU and it won’t just be lockdowns that keep Brits at home. That said, the more optimistic talkers in the industry big up the idea that an explosion of the desire to party will drive a return to normal air traffic levels next year. This is the upper end of the most optimistic projections.

Across the Atlantic, the fact of the matter is that the most powerful nation on Earth is going through a major transition. The Americans haven’t got over their midlife crisis – yet. Given the massive number of votes cast in the recent elections the margin of victory was surprisingly small. That’s a reminder of the Brexit referendum, here in the UK, if anything is. So, we know from experience there’s no such thing as an instant healing process. Moving to a more multilateral and outward looking vision of the world will take time. 

Meanwhile, what’s astonishing in Europe is UK Brexit supporter’s keenness to take a bad situation and make it even worse.  The UK Government’s Internal Market Bill is a perfect example of a bad apple turning a whole basket of apples bad. To its credit the UK Parliament’s House of Lords recognised the problem and addressed it. Trouble is the House of Commons is likely to ignore common sense and march ever more towards a cliff edge. 


[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/forget-brexit-deal-without-credible-guarantees-on-competition-michel-barnier-tells-uk-6zqp0bblv

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tlxv

[3] https://www.oag.com/coronavirus-airline-schedules-data

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

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

Flight, Risk & Reflections 5.

In the UK, not only has the amount of flying reduced dramatically but the places people are going has changed. Whereas a year ago long-haul air traffic dominated international passenger numbers that has changed[1]. The breakdown in transatlantic travel is notable. Greece and Turkey are now top destinations. Leisure travel and the international hubs in Istanbul and Dubai are major players. It will be fascinating to see if, over time these changes stick.

It’s a new week and another week of EU-UK negotiations. Brexit talks could be in the final stretch.  The agenda for the 9th round of talks in Brussels includes aviation[2]

The calls for “no compromise” on the part of the hard-core Brexit supporters is far from the reality of what is needed to move the talks forward. EU and UK negotiators both need to compromise to get a workable deal. Unfortunately, even during this pandemic, the culture war rages on in the UK.

It’s likely that the subject of future governance will be more important for the EU after the UK Prime Minister’s announced he was planning to break his word on the Withdrawal Agreement.

The end of the UK transition period with the EU, on December 31 is unmoveable. For British citizens, travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021[3]. What makes this more difficult is that Government guidance is still peppered with the words “might” or “may.” By contrast, a vote of the citizens of Switzerland has just upheld the pillars of its relationship with the EU. Unlike the UK, they will have the freedom to move, live and work in Switzerland and the EU.


[1] https://www.gridpoint.consulting/blog/the-changing-shape-of-the-uk-airline-market

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ninth-round-uk-eu-future-relationship-negotiations-29-september-2-october-2020

[3] https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Flight, Risk & Reflections 4.

It’s under 100 days to go to the final, final, final Brexit exit. This Autumn flying faces the quadruple threats of rising Coronavirus numbers, diminishing Government support, implementation of erratic polices and the possibility of a disorderly end to the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement transition period. The shining light is that everyone knew that this was coming, and adding up all the turmoil of the last 4-years it has at least given industry and institutions time to come to terms with the situation and prepare accordingly.  Yes, there are a bucket load of unknowns. 

On the plus side as soon as we get past 1 January 2021 there will be less constraints for either party. The European Union (EU) will be able to go ahead with actions once blocked by the UK. Vice-versa the UK will be able to develop its own unique set of policies, rules and regulations. 

If both parties don’t lose their basic common sense there ought to be a good degree of continuing communication, collaboration and cooperation.

I agree with the AIRBUS CEO: “Aviation, an irreplaceable force for good in the world, is today at risk as borders remain closed and influential voices in Europe call for permanent curbs on flying.”

Recently the British Business General Aviation Association (BBGA) hosted a webinar [1]dedicated to all matters Brexit. Good of them to make it available on-line to non-members.

In addition, there’s a “Readiness for Brexit[2]” update from Tim Johnson, Strategy and Policy Director UK CAA now on-line. This is about the CAA’s readiness for what’s going to happen at the end of the transition period.  There’s a promise of continuity, at least for a while[3].

It saddens me greatly that the UK will no longer be part of the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system but that’s now a matter of fact. Who knows what the future may bring? It’s perfectly possible that the UK will be back in the system in the next decade.

There’s a lot of reasons why it’s going to be difficult for the UK to act entirely alone. For efficient and sustainable air traffic management the European Single European Sky (SES) project will continue to advance. It would be better for all if the UK was part of that advancement.

We need to concentrate on dealing with the present situation and maximising positive working with Europe. There are many areas of common interest. We remain a great European Country.


[1] https://www.avm-mag.com/bbga-to-conduct-brexit-info-webinar/

[2] https://www.caa.co.uk/Blog-Posts/Readiness-for-Brexit/

[3] https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/UK%20Safety%20Regulation%20outside%20EASA%20(CAP1911)%20SEP%202020.pdf

Flight, Risk & Reflections 3.

“It is the year of turmoil”

Summing up the year so far, upbeat positive words are hard to find. The crisis that has stretched across the globe has left everyone wondering what comes next? What will recovery look like? I’m trying to avoid a melodramatic tone because if we compare this global crisis with others faced by humanity, in the last hundred years, this is not so massive. 

We, industry, Governments and travellers have in the last 60-years of the jet age have become accustomed to a progressively developing model of civil aviation that has increased the opportunity to travel. We recognised that the post-war model for aviation had to change. That was a major part of the ICAO General Assembly in Montreal last year. Global aviation must be made environmentally sustainable. More effort needed to be directed at long-term solutions to satisfy the wish to travel but reduce the environmental impact for flying.

Most large organisations had the event of a pandemic as part of the corporate risk assessment. Unfortunately, for many this was a tick in the box, a presentation and pat on the back job done. 2020’s events have thrown us into a completely different state from the one that was imagined.

Now, not without warning, but at great pace, the imperative has become to ensure the health and safety of passengers and workers in all aspects of civil aviation[1].  The COVID-19 crisis is forcing manufactures, operators and maintainers to rethink their business at every level. Jobs are being lost.

It’s often said that if you must change something big, change one thing at a time. People overwhelm themselves and start making mistakes if you change too many things all at once. Sadly, there’s the dying embers of a macho culture[2] in some parts of business and the political world. The results they produce are often extremely poor.  Over promising and under delivering are fatal to long-term success. 

In a World that made sense, both the UK and the EU would suspend the talks concerning their new relationship, get on with addressing COVID-19 and come back to the table when there was a better view of what the future might bring. Our reality is that a post-Brexit trade deal between UK and the EU seems unlikely at one stage, and then the next day it’s back on and the following day off again. News flits back and fore.

It remains to be seen if UK Prime Minister Johnson has a plan for a No-Deal Brexit. What’s happening is creating uncertainty and volatility day after day and making it hard for everyone. The devastating public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 plus all this turmoil is disastrous.

The UK’s political establishment do seem to be disconnected from reality. 


[1] https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/2020-09/covid19-eurocontrol-comprehensive-air-traffic-assessment-14092020.pdf

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machismo

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Flight, Risk & Reflections 2.

The 7th round of UK-EU negotiations has ended. So, here we are. Yet, another week goes by and the heal draggers win again. Instead of rapidly moving forwards towards a conclusion, to be the benefit of all, the situation remains with little progress being talk of[1]. Let’s remember it’s August. Only 4-months to wrap-up a legal text of a UK-EU agreement and to ensure that it’s accepted by the parties. The UK and 27 individual EU Countries must read, understand and ratify it.

The reflections coming from both sides at the table makes sorry reading[2][3]. What a depressing but predictable state of affairs. Reading a few of the comments people make on the current situation, I realise that the debate remains one of immense childishness, in some cases. This is not a game of cards. It’s not a football match. It’s not about victors and the vanquished. Every deal that was ever made, or ever will be made requires both parties to compromise.

Echoes of last year’s electioneering over an “oven ready deal” now look rather foolish. Where’s the UK Prime Minister? If there’s to be a No-Deal BREXIT outcome, then he will need to prepare the Country for it as soon as possible. If Brexit was originally about ending Freedom of Movement, it’s now about a whole lot more. The facts are that a No-Deal BREXIT outcome will make us all poorer. 

Major changes are inevitable, with or without agreement on a new UK-EU relationship. Citizens, organisations and companies need to get ready for 2021.

But it’s still not too late for a sound deal. The deal that can be struck with the EU will be the most important the UK can make in this decade. If it doesn’t strike, at least a basic deal other partners will look on and wonder why? or, in the worst case, see an opportunity to take advantage.  That’s not where anyone sane would want to be. 

In a No-Deal scenario the UK will lose the benefits it has in the European Single Market in Aviation. As if the COVID-19 virus impact wasn’t enough. The aviation industry has taken a direct hit with an estimated one-third of the global fleet grounded at a time that’s normally high season for holidays.

The Coronavirus lock-down measures have pushed the UK into recession, Contraction in the economy has been significant but even the numbers leave much of the story unwritten. On top of this the UK quarantine on Countries, including France is like banging nails into the coffin of the British travel industry. A No-Deal BREXIT outcome will finish the job off.  


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53854730

[2] https://no10media.blog.gov.uk/2020/08/21/david-frosts-statement-following-the-conclusion-of-round-7-negotiations-with-the-eu/

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_1511