At its December meeting the EASA Comitology Committee postponed from 2012 to 2014 the adoption of EASA’s proposals on third country licensing. In the meantime the committee hopes the matter can be dealt with by way of bilateral agreements between Europe and America. In fact the first bilateral – known as a BASA – is due in spring, although it makes no mention of licensing. The hope is that flight crew licensing agreements can be added later by way of annexes. Unfortunately the negotiations on bilaterals have been characterised by ill-will on both sides.
AOPA’s lobbying of members of the EASA Comitology Committee and European Commission indicated that while they were wary of the damage EASA’s proposals would cause, they were more concerned about the ability of national aviation authorities to handle the change from national to EASA licences, and the introduction of new third-country rules at the same time might be too much to cope with. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson says: “The difficulty when it comes to lobbying on these issues is that everyone agrees with you, but won’t change position. Nobody claims there is a safety issue, everyone accepts that the economic damage will be substantial, yet the status quo is impossible to maintain.
“Everyone says they want full reciprocity from the other side, while secretly trying to give less than they receive. Full reciprocity would be great for general aviation as long as we had a sensible validation system; imagine if you had an FAA IR and the process for converting it to a European equivalent was simple and sensible. But how likely is that? At the root of the argument is government support for Boeing and Airbus, and everything from downline repair station charges to pilot licensing is governed by that. We are small cogs in a large intercontinental dispute, and bigger wheels are going to grind us up. ”