Traveling by airplane is a very safe way of transportation. But this safety did not occur overnight. The Second World War initiated a huge growth spurt of the technology and the use of airspace in very short time. This was indeed not only for the military technology and use of airspace, the civil aviation experienced a similar grow.
This concerned particularly the United States. If no guidelines would be to achieved for international growth in the use of the airspace and technological developments, an uncontrollable and unsafe aviation industry could be the end result.
As a result of this concern, the USA organized a conference. International agreements were made by delegates from 52 world nations and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was established. ICAO is the industrial branch for the aviation industry and is since 1949 active in setting guidelines and standards for a safe, structured and equitable use of airspace and aviation industry. Countries that joined ICAO, adopted these guidelines and standards into their own national aviation legislation and maintenance regulatory agencies were established.
The very first actual aviation authority was the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Established as a public authority in August 1926, the FAA has laid the foundation for aviation maintenance regulations. Many other international aviation regulations for initial and continuous airworthiness are based on FAA requirements.
In 2003, Europe got its own aviation authority, the European Agency for Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Through European law, all EU memberstates are required to comply to EU aviation regulations.
There are several international aviation authorities that have bilateral agreements and accept each other’s regulations as being equivalent. But there are authorities which have no similarities and therefore no bilateral agreements. Maintenance organizations in particular are the ones that suffer from this deficiency. Aviation maintenance organizations are condemned to obtain multiple approvals for the same business activities. This means that organizations need to take various requirements into consideration for the same maintenance tasks. Duplication of effort, confusion and an unnecessary expense is the outcome.
It all started well intended with the need to control the growth and development of the aviation industry, and it ends with confusion and unnecessary activities in order to comply to all kinds of different interpretations on how to guarantee continuous airworthiness. Is the aviation industry’s high level of safety at stake? Are aviation maintenance organizations still able to keep up the same safety standard with all the additional costs involved? I’m afraid that with the current worldwide financial recession, that also impacts the aviation industry, several maintenance organization will face the choice between making concessions or going out of business!
Wouldn’t it be great to have one global aviation authority, with one set of aviation requirements for aircraft airworthiness and maintenance activities?
I personally think it’s certainly not too late to come to uniform and unambiguous aviation regulations. The industry is still very safe well regulated. Aviation Authorities know too well that making proper arrangements and implementing bilateral agreements is necessary to reduce the confusion, unnecessary activities and extra cost. Is this the first step towards one global aviation authority?