Introduced in 1964, the Learjet 23, the world‟s first purpose-built private jet, was classed by aviation regulators under the category of General Aviation‟, with very few restrictions in the way it was operated.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialist agency of the United Nations, came into existence in 1947 to promote the safe and efficient development of civil aviation globally. Its Standards and Recommended Practices are published in a series of Annexes to the Convention; for fixed-wing international general aviation aircraft, this is Annex 6 Part II, which sets safe operating practice criteria for all flying activity and is the standard which applies to fixed-wing aircraft on the Isle of Man register.
As general aviation progressed, evolving from mainly light aircraft flown for pleasure, to large corporate jets, ICAO has been obliged to update Annex 6 Part II to ensure the global operation of larger complex business jets are more professionally operated and appropriately regulated. These changes, now coming into effect, will involve all 191 signatory States to the Convention on International Civil Aviation updating their legislation for their general aviation aircraft, including the majority of the 460+ aircraft currently on the Isle of Man register.
Today, there are thousands of modern business jets flying globally, with more than 12,000 registered in the USA alone. Appleby recently imported into the EU a new Cayman registered Gulfstream G650 through the Isle of Man airport, which had flown from Las Vegas in 8 hours and 16 minutes, only an hour longer than it takes to fly by scheduled service from the Isle of Man, via Manchester and Southampton, to Jersey! But a small jet may not have the size needed, or the endurance, for a global business and many now operate Boeing and Airbus airliners as general aviation aircraft.
ANNEX 6 PART II ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
As the new ICAO requirements become law in each national register, the key changes to the legislation will include the need for a structured and auditable approach to the operation of larger complex aircraft and will include:
- The requirement for an approved Minimum Equipment List.
- The requirement for a Maintenance Control Manual detailing how the operator will manage the day to day continuing airworthiness needs of the aircraft. This can include delegation of tasks to nominated persons, but cannot be a delegation of responsibility.
- The requirement for an Operations Manual including flight crew fatigue management and a Safety Management System which is appropriate to the size and complexity of the operation.
EUROPEAN AVIATION SAFETY AGENCY (EASA) PART-NCC
EASA is also implementing additional operational requirements for foreign (third country‟) registered aircraft whose operator has its principal place of business or residence in any EASA Member State. The French DGAC has already issued an obligation on third country operators established or resident in France to declare their existence by 25 August 2015 at the latest. The EASA requirements titled Part-NCC (non-commercial operations of complex motor-powered aircraft) propose a division of regulatory responsibility between the State of Registry and the State of the Operator. A totally new, untried proposal, which appears to trespass into the jurisdiction of the Chicago Convention to which ICAO owes its existence.
Having attained the new ICAO Annex 6 Part II requirements for their State of Registry, the operators of third country aircraft established or resident in an EASA Member State may also need to meet the additional Part-NCC requirements including:
- A signed declaration stating that they fulfil the Part-NCC obligations and assume responsibility and liability for their operations.
- Be subject to an oversight programme, including audits and inspections by the competent EASA States authority.
- As of 8 April 2016 EU Regulation Part-FCL requires pilots flying non-EASA, non-commercial, registered aircraft to hold EASA compliant licenses.
Given that the Isle of Man is not part of the EU, these requirements would apply to Isle of Man registered aircraft if the operator is resident in the EU, as they are third country aircraft. It is not yet clear how EASA‟s requirements imposing two parallel regulatory and oversight systems will work consistently across the EU, or perhaps more importantly how this complexity will help to improve business jet safety. Operators of Isle of Man registered aircraft that are established or residing outside Europe, and those established or residing in a non-EASA State, including residents in the Isle of Man, will not be affected by the EASA Part-NCC regulation.
Despite not previously having to adhere to these new ICAO and EASA requirements, business jets historically have an extremely high safety record. But, as general aviation aircraft have become faster, larger and more sophisticated, it is now time for the aviation regulators to catch up with the general aviation industry‟s progress.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.