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30 April was the deadline for stakeholders to send their comments on the proposal by the European regulator (EASA) for future EU rules on aerodromes. ECA’s safety experts analysed the text and made extensive comments to help improve the rules. Among the main comments, we stressed the need to ensure full pilot involvement at airport level in all decision-making processes as well as the need to better balance between soft law and hard law.

Overall, EASA’s proposal is a transposition into European rules of Annex 14 of ICAO – the International Civil Aviation Organisation) – that sets the safety standards and recommended practices for airports. This transposition was an opportunity for EASA to go beyond and improve the current worldwide rules by setting a higher safety standard in Europe. But the Agency has not been that ambitious and restricted itself to some small improvements compared to Annex 14.

To ensure the new European rules are properly implemented and can develop their full safety potential, ECA strongly believes that pilots –  being the actual users of aerodromes and their runways – must be involved in all relevant decision-making processes at airport level. They have a specific operational expertise and experience that few others have. They know the airport they are based at, they know its deficiencies and they can advise on how to mitigate the risks. Without such involvement, the ‘soft law’ approach chosen by the Agency would become very challenging to handle. We hope EASA agrees on the importance of these comments and we look forward to seeing them reflected in the future revised proposal.