Memorandum submitted by Air Medical Ltd.
Air Medical Ltd. (AirMed) is the largest operator
of fixed wing Air Ambulances in the UK. Based at Oxford airport
the company was established almost 20 years ago, has AOC number
GB1171 and currently operates nine Air Ambulances as well as a
number of passenger and freight aircraft. AirMed appreciates the
necessity for and value of effective regulation. AirMed has in
general a very high regard for the work undertaken by the CAA
and in particular for those members of the CAA that work with
us on the day to day aspects of maintenance and operations. However,
there are two specific issues that AirMed would like to raise.
2. THE ISSUES
(a) In order to compete with the low cost
providers, ensure their flights run to schedule and to improve
turnaround times, carriers such as British Airways are increasingly
giving up providing stretcher capacity on their regular flights.
Responding to the resulting increase in demand for Air Ambulances,
AirMed recently bought and imported two aircraft from the USA.
In so doing AirMed has had very recent experience of how the Civil
Aviation Authority works and interacts with EASA on certification
issues. In the opinion of AirMed, the procedures that have been
established for EASA and the CAA to deal with certification matters
(b) AirMed is the UK's only operator of
single engine turbine aircraft on a Type B Operating Licence AOC
for public transport. Unlike the situation in many other European
countries as well as the USA and Canada, it is economically unsustainable
to operate single engine turbine aircraft in the UK because of
restrictions imposed by the CAA. A proposal to enact legislation
across all of Europe that would as a minimum ensure uniform rules
for the operation of this type of aircraft, has been in the process
of being developed for the last nine years. The CAA's attitude
has continuously been to avoid seeking a decision on the issue
and indeed it has done everything possible to ensure that it cannot
be held responsible for any decision that is eventually taken.
This has been detrimental to UK operators, is not what any industry
expects from its regulator and has given other European operators
a competitive advantage over their UK peers.
EASA became responsible for the certification
of aircraft in the European Community from September 2003. In
the absence of EASA having the appropriate staff to undertake
their certification responsibilities, it was agreed that National
Aviation Authorities such as the CAA would act as a sub-contractor
in their respective countries and do the work for EASA for a predetermined
period. More than two years later the details of how the CAA works
as a sub-contractor to EASA for certifying aircraft imported into
the UK, do not appear to have been agreed. Reference to this is
made in CAA Board Minutes that are published on the CAA's website.
The situation is exacerbated by a submit your proposal and we
will tell you what's wrong with it" approach when what industry
needs is guidance to get it right first time. As a direct result
of this, AirMed suffered delays in the certification of a Piper
Cheyenne PA31T2 that it wished to put onto its AOC and operate
as an Air Ambulance. The financial costs of this delay have been
considerable and our confidence in the ability of the CAA and
EASA to ensure a smooth transition towards EU Ops, (or is it EASA
Ops?) is now very low.
The chosen method for transition from a number
of national regulators of aviation to a single European regulator
is having an unintentional effect. In essence the management of
the CAA appear to be becoming reluctant to make decisions for
which they feel may be held responsible in the future. They see
the arrival of EU Ops as a way of delaying decisions, therefore
passing the responsibility and any potential liability onto management
If the legislative process to decide whether
or not European countries can agree on commonality of operating
procedures for single engine turbines can take nine years and
still have no end in sight, how many other Operational issues
are being delayed for the same reason? What is the impact on safety?
The above two examples have been used to highlight
some of the problems with EASA and the CAA's regulation of civil
aircraft as perceived by AirMed, an Operator of a General Aviation
fleet. It is suggested that the CAA should:
1. Continue to participate fully in the development
of European and international aviation safety regulations, but
work more in partnership with other European National Authorities,
rather than pursue a separate agenda.
2. Understand that decisive rulemaking is
beneficial to industry. Delays in making decisions are costing
industry a considerable amount of money and creating a competitively
uneven playing field.
14 November 2005