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Training focus: Trainers run the rule over EASA's tighter regime
Europe's type rating and flight training organisations as well as operators of private aircraft are reviewing their options as EASA introduces a tighter regulatory regime.

Europe's type rating and flight training organisations as well as operators of private aircraft are reviewing their options as EASA introduces a tighter regulatory regime. Currently, a great deal of pilot training takes place in countries outside the EU, such as the United States, where facilities are advanced and often in close proximity to manufacturers and the weather is considered more predictable.

Under the new regime, instructors from outside the EU will have to hold an instructor's certificate in accordance with Part FCL, and an EASA licence, whereas now it is possible for training organisations located outside the EU to use instructors qualified by and through other authorities such as the FAA. Currently JAR-FCL 1 and 2 allow training for both licences and ratings to be conducted by training organisations located outside the EU if they have been approved by one of the JAA member states. However, licences or ratings issued on the basis of training conducted by a Flight Training Organisation (FTO) or a Type Rating Training Organisation (TRTO) approved in this way will have their privileges limited to aircraft registered in the country that issued the licence.

Also the JAA system allows individual member states to exercise discretion in the implementation of some of the JAR-FCL requirements. Under the new regime, which will be fully implemented not later than 8 April 2012, EASA, and not the national aviation authorities, will have to approve training organisations whose principal place of business is located outside the EU.

The privileges of a licence or qualification will be the same whether the company where the training is conducted is based in, or outside, the EU. "The requirements for approval of training organisations located outside of Europe, as well as for the instructors working for them are the same as for organisations inside the European territory," EASA explains.

Additionally, the distinction between FTOs and TRTOs disappears. All training organ-isations receive the general designation of approved training organisation (ATO), and the scope of the training that they can provide will be indicated in the approval. But EASA says: "We are looking forward to receiving comments from all stakeholders, including training organisations, and we will take them seriously into account."

EASA is organising workshops to exchange ideas and solve problems. It also intends to propose as a transition measure that all approvals issued by a member state on the basis of JAR-FCL requirements and procedures are deemed to have been issued in accordance with EASA requirements, while establishing a maximum period for the correction of any findings resulting from the changes in the system. EASA says: "Training organisations should start, with the help of their approving authorities, a comparison between the requirements upon which the authority based the approval and the requirements that will be part of the EASA system."

This will include instructor qualifications, training programmes and management systems. EASA says: "This comparison will allow them to identify the differences and possible findings, to start the preparation of the correction plan."

Depending on the progress of consultations, and feedback from the European Commission, EASA expects the new regime to come into force next year but full compliance may not be enforced until the 2012 deadline. "By this date, all new rules will have to be implemented," EASA says.

In the meantime the EU and the US need to agree a basis for the mutual recognition of pilot licensing. "A specific annex to the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement on this subject needs to be negotiated between Europe and the FAA. EASA is ready to start discussions on this, proposing a full mutual recognition approach," the organisation says.

Until and unless there is mutual recognition, training organ-isations outside the EU, including those in the US, will have to implement changes. The options might include acquiring or setting up a training organisation in Europe and ensuring that pilot instructors meet EASA as well as home country qualifications to practice.

Eurocopter's global presence and training policy enables it to take an approach that fulfils both the EASA and the FAA training requirements.

The company points out that the group offers its customers training services that are approved by the regulatory authority that covers their operating base area. "The two most widely-recognised set of regulations are those of Europe and the United States, which are set by EASA/JAR and the FAA respectively," the company points out. "Where Eurocopter Group has subsidiaries in countries outside these zones it offers training services according to that country's authority."

For example, in Singapore the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) follows JAR standards, so the Eurocopter subsidiary in Singapore, Eurocopter South East Asia offers CAAS and JAR-approved training courses in its Singapore Helicopter Training Centre. In the US, American Eurocopter in Dallas offers fully FAA-compliant training. However: "Should a customer from one regulatory area require training to a different area's standards then Eurocopter, with its 12 training centres around the world, is usually able to offer a solution that matches a given requirement."

But all manufacturers need to keep a close eye on changing requirements. Trevor Esling, Cessna's vp for international sales, confirms: "We are reviewing the proposed changes with FlightSafety International, our training provider. Broadly, Cessna would like to see increasing harmonisation in the training arena between the FAA and EASA, so there are aspects to the proposals that cause us some concern and merit further discussion with EASA."

But that has not inhibited innovation. Cessna has extended its contract with King Schools to offer a new web-based pilot training curriculum that will be offered exclusively through the worldwide Cessna Pilot Center network. The new curriculum, says vp marketing Tom Aniello, will be developed in partnership with King Schools to prepare prospective pilots for the sport pilot certificate and beyond. "The curriculum will incorporate the latest technology, an electronic logbook, a web-based course management system and much more."

He adds: "It is part of Cessna's long-term strategy to continue to be the industry leader for flight training. We believe introducing this next generation flight training program in conjunction with the first SkyCatcher delivery is going to create opportunities for us to expand into new markets to reach more people. And, by incorporating the latest technologies, we will deliver the curriculum in the way people want to learn today."

The Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) network consists of 275 domestic and 20 international affiliates and Cessna's partnership with King Schools dates back more than 10 years. "Since 2000, CPCs have delivered private and instrument pilot training to more than 100,000 pilots around the world," Aniello says.

Some organisations, including the Pilot Training College of Ireland, believe they, like Cessna and Eurocopter, are well-placed to respond to change although it will involve some challenges. The college is headquartered at Waterford airport in Ireland with a second base at Weston airport in Dublin. It has a fair weather base in Vero Beach, Florida, where it organises training with Flight Safety Academy and it also has its own JAA approved facility. "Not having the facility to train at a fair weather base would be extremely difficult from a number of points of view but we will be looking at ways to ameliorate that," the college says. "We have graduates that enter the private aviation sector upon which the authority based the approval and the requirements that will be part of the EASA system."

Once the public consultation is finished, EASA will have to review all the comments received, and develop a comment response document (CRD). "Our rule making procedure foresees a standard period of three months for this, but more time may be necessary taking into account the amount of comments received," EASA says.

This CRD will be published on its web site for two months. EASA then issues an opinion and sends it to the EC Commission. The Commission will then issue its own proposal based on the opinion. The Commission's proposal will go through an adoption process before being published and coming into force. But there is a possibility that longer transition periods will be decided on for some issues and that this might delay the application of some of the new rules.

According to Air Care Solutions ceo Doug Mykol, there is no reason why the training vendor needs to be based or owned in Europe.

Dianne Worby, training director at Global Air Training (GAT), says a new training facility alongside GAT's existing facility has more than doubled training capacity. "All courses may be delivered at the facility in the north west of England or at the clients' own base worldwide," she says. "All instructors meet rigorous CAA performance standards and are accredited by other relevant authorities as required. GAT training programmes comply with the standards and requirements of relevant regulatory bodies including the UK CAA and UK Department for Transport, JAA, FAA and ICAO.

Gregory A Popp, Bristow Academy Inc bdm, says: "Our graduates go on to fly throughout the world with many going to Europe and the Middle East. Bristow Academy works closely with industry in assessing forthcoming needs for pilots and the specific training requirements in demand, in order to position our programs to meet these needs as they arise."

He advises operators to choose providers that have the resources and capabilities to meet multiple licensing standards including those of the FAA and JAA. "It is sensible to choose providers that are closely aligned with other elements in the industry such as operators, manufacturers, educational institutions, regulatory bodies, etc, as these relationships create a sensitivity to trends, requirements, needs and other factors influential to training," he adds.

FlightSafety International is another large organisation that has the flexibility to offer training in key jurisdictions in Europe and in North America. David Davenport, manager at Savannah Learning Center, FlightSafety International, says FlightSafety offers training on Gulfstream aircraft at its learning centres in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; the greater Philadelphia/ Wilmington area; Long Beach, California; at London Farnborough airport and in Savannah, Georgia.

Joerg Oberhofer, accountable manager AeronautX Luftfahrtschule, Austria, reports an increase in enquiries from small to medium size operators that need flexibility in terms of time and support. "For some operators we do complete type courses, for others we do the ground course and the simulator training is done with their company personnel, which of course teaches under our TRTO umbrella."

Air-Espace Sarl, created in July 2004 in French-speaking western Switzerland, is also studying EU requirements. It has used the Beech Baron 58 configured FNPT II intensively in basic IR training with the aim of facilitating the transition of students on to a Beech Baron 55, the FTO's advanced training aircraft, or on to its Cessna 310.

The conclusion of most training organisations is that EASA's tighter regulatory regime is likely to make it more difficult and expensive for training organisations based outside the EU to operate training in the EU region. Those companies with operations that already work to full EASA requirements will have the advantage until their rivals make the transition.

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