Today, air transport is one of the safest forms of travel. As air transport began to develop there was a need for a common international initiative to regulate the safety and sustainability of this mode of transport. In December 1944, fifty four of the world’s nations became signatories to the “Chicago Convention”, the aim of which was to guarantee the safe, regulated and economic development of air transport. The convention established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations authorized with coordinating and controlling international air travel. ICAO establishes in the terms of the Convention, the rules, regulations and requirements to which each signatory must adhere.
As a signatory of the convention the United Kingdom (UK) must comply with ICAO requirements for air transport. The Civil Aviation Act 1982 is the UK’s way of fulfilling its ICAO obligations. This legislation required the creation of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The Air Navigation Order (ANO) is the law that sanctions CAA to carry out its duties.
With the growth in air traffic a need to uphold safety and environmental rules at the European level was identified. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) became operational in September 2003 in response to this need. EASA is an independent European Union (EU) body under European law, accountable to the Member States and the EU institutions. EASA strives to promote the highest common standards of safety and environmental protection in civil aviation, working closely with ICAO and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the aviation authorities of Canada, Brazil, Israel, China and Russia with the aim of harmonizing standards and promoting best aviation practice worldwide.
The safety and environmental protection in civil aviation is upheld by the enforcement of Airworthiness Directives (ADs). Airworthiness is a term used to determine whether an aircraft is worthy of safe flight in all possible environments and foreseeable circumstances for which it has been designed – this includes the aircraft, operation of the aircraft and the environmental effects caused by the aircraft (Gunston, 1988). Continued Airworthiness is defined as all of the processes ensuring that, at any time in its life, an aircraft complies with the technical conditions fixed to the issue of the Certificate of Airworthiness and is in a condition for safe operation (ICAO.9713, 2007). According to ICAO Annex 8 (2006) the ultimate responsibility for Continued Airworthiness is assigned to the State of Design but the programme to achieve it is a matter for the State of Registry.
Aircraft Registered in the UK must comply with applicable UK ADs, European Aviation Safety Agency ADs and those issued by the National Authority of the State of Design. CAA has delegated the Continued Airworthiness Program to EASA, who stipulate and carry out the application and guidance regarding Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation Approval for EASA Regulated aircraft.
Commercial aviation has been categorized as an Almost Totally Safe Industry as a result of the highly regulated and controlled manner in which Continuing Airworthiness is managed. However, much development of the control of safety in Continuing Airworthiness Management is to be achieved to really earn such a title. Saull (2005) suggests that the level of safety that is established in commercial aviation by the regulation of Continuous Airworthiness Management is affected by aspects such as event analysis, human factors, safety management, cost considerations, bureaucracy, legal penalties, technology, etc. It is important therefore to continuously evaluate, analyze and make developments or improvements to such aspects within Continuous Airworthiness Management to maintain the safety and sustainability of the civil aviation industry.
This report documents a proposal for a project that deals with the evaluation of continued airworthiness management within the aviation environment. The project will focus on civil aviation in the UK and the systems set in place by EASA to regulate airworthiness on a European level. The project will also consider efforts made to unify Continuous Airworthiness systems on an international level by considering the approaches of organizations such as FAA in the United States. The project will aim to inform on current systems and regulations in the UK and will use these findings to attempt to recommend areas and methods of improvement in Continuous Airworthiness Management internationally. This project is due for completion on the 30th April 2010.
This project seeks to provide useful information to the civil aviation industry to maintain or improve levels of safety within the industry. The primary aim of the project is to evaluate continuous airworthiness management within an aviation environment. The investigation will lead to recommendations on developments or improvements to be made to continuous airworthiness management in international civil aviation. There will be useful summaries that will be compiled including summaries of current airworthiness authorities, regulations and management systems; comparisons of existing continuous airworthiness management systems; and summaries of recent and impending changes in continuous airworthiness legislations.
Civil air transport remains the safest mode of transportation today. The high level of safety maintained by civil aviation has inspired confidence in this industry which has contributed significantly to the economy of practically every nation in the world, through job creation and economic. However, disturbing trends can potentially jeopardize this impressive achievement. The leveling off of accident rates, which could lead to an actual increase in the number of accidents as the industry grows from 1.35 billion passengers to 2 billion in a few years. It is therefore important to ensure that optimum level of safety is maintained through major changes like globalization, privatization, liberalization of economic controls and the emergence of new technologies. This research investigation seeks to provide useful information and recommendations to help maintain or improve the safety within civil aviation through the improvement of continuous airworthiness management. The objectives of this investigation are:
- To collect information on the current regulations, authorities and management systems for continuous airworthiness within a civil aviation environment,
- To compare existing airworthiness management systems and to evaluate each systems based on the accounts of serious incident and accident rates maintained by each system (ICAO Annex 13, 2003),
- To make an analysis of the effects of past developments to existing continuous airworthiness management systems within civil aviation – including standard of airworthiness (measured by fatal accident rate), running costs and bureaucracy,
- To identify areas of improvement and research methods of improvement within continuous airworthiness management,
- To summarize recent and impending legislative changes to continuous airworthiness regulations within the civil aviation industry and to use the information to forecast future changes to regulations, and
- To make recommendations on developments or improvements within continuous airworthiness management in international civil aviation.
The following are the list of specific objectives and their associated project activities for this project. The specific objectives are marked 1, 2, 3, etc. and the associated project activities are marked (1.1.), (1.2.), (2.1), (3.1), etc.
1. Literature Survey on Continuing Airworthiness Management
- Investigate the international regulations for Continuing Airworthiness Management as stipulated by ICAO
- Investigate existing airworthiness regulation within the CAA and FAA frameworks,
- Study the implementation and Continuing Airworthiness Management implemented by EASA and other generic practice routines established by other authorised bodies,
- Investigate the adherence of Continuing Airworthiness Regulations by the EASA system management,
- Document current policies and procedures of companies with the requirement of Certificate of Airworthiness in an operation environment.
The literature research will primarily be carried out using the internet using the websites of ICAO, CAA, FAA and EASA and will be augmented by the use of the references supplied in the bibliography at the end of this proposal.
2. Compare existing airworthiness management systems
- Compare existing continuing airworthiness management systems with consideration given to aspects such as event analysis, human factors, safety management, cost considerations, bureaucracy, legal penalties, technology, environmental impact, etc. Quantify continuing airworthiness within the different systems using the rates of serious incidents and accidents.
3. Analyze Improvements within Continuous Airworthiness Management Systems
- Identify past improvements and their effects to the control of Continuous Airworthiness Management for various systems,
- Identify areas and methods of improvements within Continuous Airworthiness Management,
- Identify technological improvements that can be developed or employed for the improvement of Continuous Airworthiness Management – this includes identifying suitable software packages for records and documentation.
4. Study Legislative Changes to Continuous Airworthiness Management Systems
- Investigate recent and expected legislative changes made to the control of Continuous Airworthiness within the UK and internationally,
- Forecast future legislative changes to Continuous Airworthiness.
5. Recommend Developments to Continuous Airworthiness Management in Civil Aviation
- Consolidate information and make recommendations on developments to Continuous Airworthiness Management in international civil aviation.
6. Compile Project Report and Document Findings.
This project commenced on the 1st November 2009 and is planned for completion on the 30th April 2010. The progress milestones for this project are as follows:
- First Draft of Literature Survey on Continuing Airworthiness Management Completed
- Target date: 30 November 2009
- Target date: 26 December 2009
- Target date: 31 January 2009
- Target date: 27 February 2009
- Target date: 28 March 2010
- Target date: 25 April 2010
7. A Gantt chart representing the list of project activities and their time allocations in this period are to be found in the Appendix.
As this project seeks to summarize current legislations and systems on continuous airworthiness management within civil aviation there are limitations to the project that need to be considered:
- The research is constrained by the availability of and access to current legislations, data on current systems, accounts of fatalities or serious injuries, environmental impact studies, etc.,
- Some of the information that is available might be subjective and the investigation may be affected as such,
- Some of the information may be confidential and may not be within public reach or knowledge and the completeness of the findings, conclusions and recommendations will be limited by this information, and
- Time will constrain the level of information that can be collected for this investigation.
A proposal of the project investigating the current and future state of Continuous Airworthiness Management has been presented. In addition to aiding the civil aviation industry in the UK the research may also serve to shed light on global co-ordination in all aspects of civil aviation which affect safety.
The time frame of the project is set for 6 months and is planned for completion in April 2010.