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What will we say, when we look back at 2015 in some years from now? Will we say this was the year of the Aviation Package, prepared by the European Commission? Or will we rather think of the Germanwings tragedy? Or we might even be able to say, this was the year when we intensified our efforts against atypical forms of employment in aviation.

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Well, I guess all of the above will come to our mind, but let us take a look from the ECA perspective now. We kicked off the year with an ECA reception in the European Parliament. Many of the newly elected Members of the Parliament joined us to get first-hand information on what ‘lives’ in the aviation industry. The next big event organised under the ECA leadership was the conferenceon “Atypical Employment in Aviation”, which took place in Paris. Together with AEA and ETF we supported the University of Gent in its efforts to bring this obscure chapter of aviation in the spotlight.

Initiatives like this one gave an enormous impetus to decision-makers to look what is behind these practices and how we can eradicate the most pernicious drifts. The European Commission organised a High-level conference on the “Social Agenda on Transport, where issues like “Pay to Fly” and “Flags of Convenience” were denounced by the Transport Commissioner, as well as participants. Two hearings in the European Parliament, one in the Transport Committee and the other in the Employment Committee, both of which found broad interest amongst the Parliamentarians.

Also EASA did find their interest in these new business models that come with social dumping and atypical employment. The new working group was particularly interested in the safety related aspects of this operation, as the voices that claim that there are such concerns, cannot be ignored anymore.

2015 was also a very active year for the industry of “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems” (RPAS). A technology with its origins in the military industry, RPAS has grown out into a multi-facet, multi-use technology, which develops quicker than the regulatory framework for its safe use. With the rapid expansion of the technology, pilots’ safety concerns have dramatically increased and ECA set up a Working Group, which is working out solutions and proposals for safe integrations of drones into airspace.

Talking of experts: they were – once again – very active this past year. ECA was involved in many projects, such as the “Just Culture Declaration”, which was finally signed in October. We published our opinion on the future of the “Single European Sky” (SES) and we provided a flight time calculator to the crews that can be used via an app to thoroughly follow the new EASA limitations.

But then our world as aviation professionals was shaken by one tragedy which none of us before had ever believed could happen: the Germanwings accident prompted questions regarding medical fitness and psychological evaluation of pilots. Together with EASA and industry experts, we are working closely to find out if the current system is adequate to the new realities.

I’d like to end on a more positive note - 2015 was an intensive year for ECA and all of the experts. Without many people’s involvement the impact and visibility of ECA would definitely not be the same! I would like to thank you all for your active involvement in making flying safer!

Dirk Polloczek
ECA President

Annual Report