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The offices of the agency in Cologne, Germany
|Formed||12 July 2002|
The European Aviation Safety Agency or EASA is an agency of the European Union with responsibility for civil aviation safety. It carries out certification, regulation, and standardisation, and also performs investigation and monitoring.:§4.3 It collects and analyses safety data, drafts and advises on safety legislation, and coordinates with similar organisations in other parts of the world.:§4.3 The idea of a European-level aviation safety authority goes back to 1996, but the agency was not legally established until 2002. It began its work in 2003.:§4.3
Based in Cologne, Germany, the agency was created on 15 July 2002, and it reached full functionality in 2008, taking over functions of the Joint Aviation Authorities. European Free Trade Association countries have been granted participation in the agency.
The responsibilities of the agency include, the analysis and research of safety parameters, authorising foreign operators, advising the EU commission on the drafting of EU législations. It also implements and monitors safety rules (including inspections in the member states), giving type-certification of aircraft and components as well as the approval of organisations involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aeronautical products.
As part of Single European Sky II, the agency has been given additional tasks. These were implemented before 2013. Amongst other things, since 4 December 2012, EASA is able to certify Functional Airspace Blocks if more than three parties are involved.
EASA has jurisdiction over new type certificates and other design-related airworthiness approvals for aircraft, engines, propellers, and parts. EASA works with the National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) of the EU members but has taken over many of their functions in the interest of aviation standardisation across the EU and non-EU member Turkey. EASA is also responsible for assisting the European Commission in negotiating international harmonisation agreements with the "rest of the world" (ROW) on behalf of the EU member states and also concludes technical agreements at a working level directly with its counterparts around the world such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). EASA also sets policy for aeronautical repair stations (Part 145 organisations in Europe and the US – also known as Part 571 organisations in Canada) and issues repair station certificates for repair stations located outside the EU (which permits foreign repair stations to perform work acceptable to the European Union on EU aircraft). EASA has developed regulations for air operations, flight crew licensing and non-EU aircraft used in the EU and these shall apply after the required European legislation to expand the Agency's remit enters into force (the legislation was published on 19 March 2008.)
In 2012, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that the agency did not have an agency-specific conflict-of-interest policy and procedures. EASA does not obtain or assess the declarations of interest for staff, Management Board, Board of appeal and experts. In its report, ECA declared that:
“The worst performer among the four was the EASA, based in Cologne, which failed in all four areas that the report analyzed – on experts, staff, management board, and board of appeals.”
It was recommended that the organization adopt its own ethical standards because the then existing condition exposed the agency to a substantial crisis of credibility as well as the incidence of favoritism and conflict of interest. For member-countries and other stakeholders, fairness is of paramount importance. This is because the European Union has been increasingly strengthening the EASA's role, giving the agency independence. A discussion regarding the permission for the agency to impose financial penalties for safety violations is also underway.
In addition to the member states of the union, the countries part of the European Free Trade Association, i.e. Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland, have been granted participation under Article 66 of the Basic Regulation and are members of the Management Board without voting rights. There are also numerous working relationships with other authorities.
The agency publishes an annual safety review with statistics on European and worldwide civil aviation safety. Some information derives from the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the NLR Air Transport Safety Institute.
On 28 September 2003, the agency took over responsibility for the airworthiness and environmental certification of all aeronautical products, parts, and appliances designed, manufactured, maintained or used by persons under the regulatory oversight of EU Member States.
Certain categories of aeroplanes are however deliberately left outside EASA responsibility, thus remaining under control of the national CAA's: ultralights, experimentals, balloons are a few examples. They are generally referred to as "Annex II" aeroplanes, and are listed exhaustively on the EASA website.
In July 2017, EASA and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore entered into a working arrangement to recognize each other's certifications.
The agency defines several classes of aircraft, each with their own ruleset for certification and maintenance and repair.
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