To give a clear illustration of what the continuous accumulation of administrative constraints represents, we can cite one of the most recent regulatory tasks for comment. Just reading the name of the regulation is an achievement in itself. The title is:
‘NPA 2023-102 ‘Development of acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to support the Part-IS regulatory package implementation (RMT.0720 subtask 2)’.
A short extract from the commentary sent to EASA by Christian Müller, the Chairman of the European Helicopter Association, is enough to indicate the likely consequences of implementing this draft regulation:“We would expect small and medium-sized companies to find it difficult to allocate sufficient resources, such as time, personnel and financial investment, to establish and maintain an information security management system (ISMS) that meets these regulatory requirements. Responding to them and appointing a dedicated information security officer can be particularly challenging for organisations with limited resources.”It is as if the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the national authorities of the member states had decided that, given the diversity of the helicopter industry, the most appropriate way of improving helicopter flight safety was to increase the administrative pressure on operators indefinitely, without considering the economic and social consequences of the regulatory framework.
EASA, which has been aware of the issue for many years, believed it was possible to solve the problem by conducting a survey of helicopter operators. For the latter, however, this means devoting their time to yet another technocratic process. In France, feedback from members of the National Association of Helicopter Operators (SNEH) led its president, Christophe Rosset, to write the following editorial:
EASA’s directors were surprised at the very low level of input from operators in the survey they had launched on administrative overload.
They complained that they had not been able to gather figures or specific examples on which to base developments and adaptations.
It is likely that they will never really get this data because the administrative burden faced by helicopter operators cannot be reduced to a few files. It is the result of structural flaws in the organisation of the regulatory process, which does not allow for a stable and adequate regulatory framework.
The resulting overflow of regulatory creativity creates a multitude of draft texts (NPAs) for analysis. However, even when users find the time and motivation to comment on them, their efforts have a negligible impact. This causes dissatisfaction, which is all the more profound because the effort required to implement the texts in companies is undermined by constant amendments. For the most part, these amendments would not have been necessary if the opinion of the sector had REALLY been taken into account before the initial texts were published.
“The administrative overload and frustration of DOs (Designated Officials) and staff at helicopter operators, workshops and flight schools is not necessarily related to any particular task, but is the result of the numerous published regulations that we have had to implement since the creation of EASA.”
The economic impact analysis of projects is generally compulsory in Europe. However, even when this analysis is carried out, it is clearly inadequate. If this were not the case, projects such as the CRFS (crash resistant fuel system) and the organisation of cybersecurity would never have been published in their current state, since they will generate additional investment costs and require an increase in staffing levels to offset the extra workload…
The 60-year age limit for pilots involved in passenger transport and the increased qualification requirements for mechanics have social consequences that EASA is not prepared to address.
The inclusion of mountain rescue in HEMS regulations is not adapted to the diversity of the organisation and financing of rescues in each country.
There has also been a change in the way the national authority monitors compliance with this regulatory framework. While it used to be a form of assistance, company monitoring is becoming more and more like a type of inquisition set up to impose the most restrictive interpretation of regulatory provisions that have become too complex for everyone to understand and apply coherently.
THERE IS AN URGENT NEED TO STOP DESTROYING WHAT HAS PROVED ITS WORTH IN THE NAME OF HARMONISATION, WHICH IS BECOMING SO MUCH MORE RESTRICTIVE THAN PAST PROVISIONS THAT IT THREATENS ACTUAL SAFETY.
TEXT AND PAPER do not improve the SAFETY that we must collectively seek.
For our collective SAFETY, we need a BREAK.
ONLY A REGULATORY BREAK, which we have been demanding for more than 15 years, would make it possible to avoid dragging companies and their supervisory authorities into a COLLECTIVE NOSEDIVE.