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Civil aviation and the European Aviation Safety Agency

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Civil aviation and the European Aviation Safety Agency

This Regulation broadens the EU’s powers in aviation safety and introduces new rules on air operations, licences and flight crew training. It also establishes a system of fines for those who break safety rules. Lastly, it gives greater powers to the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency [See amending act(s)].


The Regulation applies to the design, production, maintenance and operation of aeronautical products parts and equipment, as well as to personnel and organisations involved in these activities. It aims to:

  • establish common rules on aviation safety in order to guarantee a high level of passenger security and ensure that the environment is protected;
  • ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders in the internal aviation market and facilitate the free movement of goods, persons and services, through the recognition of certificates established by the competent authorities;
  • simplify and enhance the efficiency of the certification process, by centralising activities at European level where possible;
  • promote the European Union’s (EU) views on civil aviation safety standards and rules all over the world.

To achieve these objectives, the Regulation provides, inter alia, for the creation of a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), with increased powers.


EASA structure, tasks and funding

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is an independent body of the EU with its own legal personality. EASA is led by an Executive Director and by a Management Board made up of one representative from each Member State and one representative from the Commission. The Agency’s staff consists of a strictly limited number of officials assigned or seconded by the Commission or the Member States to carry out management duties, plus other employees recruited by the Agency according to its requirements.

EASA’s main tasks are to:

  • assist the Commission to develop common rules in the field of civil aviation and to provide it with technical, scientific and administrative support to carry out its tasks;
  • conduct standardisation inspections to ensure that these rules are correctly applied within the Member States;
  • issue certificates to European companies involved in aircraft design, certify the aircraft used in Europe and certify air carriers, maintenance organisations and training organisations located in third countries.

The Agency can issue opinions and recommendations to the Commission, and issue certification specifications and acceptable means of compliance with the European rules.

The Agency shall draw up an annual programme of work in order to promote constant improvements in European aviation safety and to set out the mandates and tasks that have been added, changed or deleted as compared with the previous year.

The Agency’s revenues shall come mainly from fees (paid for certificates issued by the Agency) and charges (for publications, training and other services provided by the Agency), as well as from contributions from the EU, third countries and the Member States.



Airworthiness refers to the capability of an aircraft to fly safely. Obviously, the concept of airworthiness is one of the most important requirements of aircraft. The EU, therefore, requires that aircraft have a valid airworthiness certificate before they can be used. In addition, other types of certificate are required for:

  • products, parts and appliances mounted on aircraft;
  • aircraft design and production organisations;
  • organisations and personnel responsible for ensuring the airworthiness and maintenance of aircraft.


Aircraft products, parts and appliances must comply with environmental protection requirements found in the convention relating to international civil aviation, the so-called Chicago Convention, These regulations were reinforced in 2011 at ICAO level. Similarly, on a European Union level, Regulation (EU) No 6/2013 increased its requirements in terms of environmental protection (article 6 paragraph 1), but which also allows for a transitory exemption period until 31 December 2016.

Flight crew certification

Pilots must hold a licence and a medical certificate appropriate to the operations to be performed. A person will only be issued with a licence if he or she complies with the requirements related to theoretical knowledge, practical skill, language proficiency and experience.

Training organisations and flight simulator operators must hold appropriate certificates.

Cabin crew members involved in a commercial operation must have a certificate and they must be periodically assessed for medical fitness to safely exercise their assigned safety duties.

Air operations

Air operators are the people or companies which operate aircraft such as private pilots or airlines. All air operators must hold certificates. The level of requirements will vary according to the type of operations involved, in order to guarantee a high level of safety for commercial air transport, in particular.

Furthermore, operators from third countries whose aircraft use European airports must also meet certain European requirements.

Aerodromes and air traffic control

Aerodromes determine the structures to be used for the departure and arrival of aircraft. These structures must have certificates guaranteeing their safety and the capability of the bodies responsible for using the aerodromes.

Furthermore, the services and personnel responsible for air traffic control are also required to be holders of certificates. In particular, the mission of these services is to manage the activities and movement of aircraft and vehicles on the traffic area.

Communication and information

The Member States shall recognise certificates issued in accordance with this Regulation without any further technical requirement or evaluation.

The Member States and the Agency shall conduct investigations, including aircraft inspections, and shall take all necessary measures to prevent any possible infringements.

A penalty system has been introduced to tackle any reported infringements. In particular, the Commission may decide to revoke the European recognition of a certificate or, upon a recommendation from the Agency, impose financial penalties on holders of certificates who break European rules.


On 5 October 2012, the European Commission adopted Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 stating the technical requirements and administrative procedures applicable to aerial operations in accordance with European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 216/2008. This Regulation establishes detailed rules for the operation of aeroplanes and helicopters as means of commercial air transport.

In order to ensure a harmonious transition and to guarantee a high level of security for civil aviation in the European Union, this Regulation has specifically taken into account International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules and those of European authorities associated with aviation (previously JAA - Joint Aviation Authorities).

This new Regulation establishes, amongst other, detailed rules relating:

  • to ground inspections of operational aircraft for which security surveillance is ensured by another Member State or by a Third State;
  • to conditions relating to issuing, suspension, recall, etc, of operational aircraft certificates;
  • to privileges and responsibilities of certificate holders and
  • to circumstances in which operation is prohibited, limited or subject to certain conditions in the interests of security.

From 28 October 2014, after a two-year transition period, Air Operator's Certificates (AOC) must all respect the technical and administrative standards set out by Regulation No 965/2012.



Entry into force

Transposition deadline for Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 216/2008



OJ L 79, 19.3.2008

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Transposition deadline for Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1108/2009



OJ L 309, 24.11.2009

Regulation (EU) No 6/2013



OJ L 4, 9.01.2013


Regulation (EC) No 300/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2320/2002 [Official Journal L 97 of 9.4.2008].

Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 296 of 25.10.2012].

Last updated: 13.01.2014