Today, more than 270 airlines are banned from crossing European airspace. 70% of the countries on the list are African, the rest are from Asia and the CIS. Though the majority of the blacklisted companies didn’t ever had flights to European countries, even those air carriers currently permitted to operate in the EU will soon face a new challenge – EASA Part TCO.

According to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Europe accounted for 54% of traffic for African intercontinental flights in 2010. Unfortunately, more than 80% of the overall intercontinental flights were carried out by non-African airlines. In order to benefit from the forecasted 4.6% annual RPK growth on the Europe-Africa route and fast regional aviation industry development in the next 20 years, the majority of African airlines should already be planning changes in their business model, beginning first and foremost with the safety issues.

‘European authorities are very strict on safety issues and thus they are keen to export their standards on everyone around them. In 2008 EASA issued an amendment aimed at creating new safety regulations for the third country aircraft operators in Europe. The new EASA Part TCO implementation process will start with the TCO registration on 8th April 2012,’ – commented the Deputy Head of FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas.

According to the EASA NPA 2011-05, the fool implementation of the TCO programme will be conducted by the end of 2014. Currently operating airlines are to register and provide all necessary documentation from 8th April till 7th August 2012. These air companies will sustain temporary transition rights to perform the flights until they receive new authorisation in 2013-2014 upon passing the inspection/verification process. Those operating airlines, which fail to register before 7th August 2012, along with the airlines which have not been operating in Europe since 8th April 2010, cannot obtain transitional permissions thus they are obliged to gain the authorisation before commencing the flights to/from Europe.

‘All third part operators are divided into 3 categories: A, B, C, depending on the level of confidence into applicant. Airlines from the A category have the highest safety reliability and thus only ‘desk reviews’ will be performed, while the B and C category airlines will have to pass more significant checks with on-site inspection and consultations. If the airlines fail to pass the inspection, they will be prohibited to operate in Europe,’ said D. Sakalauskas.

Though leading African airlines raise little doubts concerning aircraft safety, still the majority of regional air carriers will probably not succeed in satisfying the new regulations. The regional aviation market expansion depends on whether local players will manage to compete with the non-African companies or whether they will be supplanted by them.

‘In order to repulse international business, local air carriers must endorse international rules. Unfortunately, nowadays Africa is still facing a crucial shortage of specialists who can provide necessary consulting and training on aircraft safety. In order for the regional aviation to overcome the unfair share in intercontinental flights, African airlines must engage international training organisations, who would help them improve their aircraft fleet safety. This would eventually open new perspectives both in the West and the East. If African airlines wish to be international, they should act international,’ concluded Dainius Sakalauskas.

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