European Union (EU) Third-Country Operator (TCO) Resources

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New EU-Wide Safety Authorization Required for U.S. Part 135 Operators

May 7, 2014

The European Commission has adopted a new regulation that requires commercial air transport (CAT) operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known as “third-country operators” (TCOs), to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU.

The registration requirement applies to CAT TCOs, who must demonstrate to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards. CAT operators include all airlines and charter operators, including U.S. Part 135 operations.

The TCO authorization is a single process for all operators flying to the 28 European Union states, EU overseas territories and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The authorization will be a prerequisite to operating in these states and territories. A TCO authorization is not required for operators only overflying the EU member states, EU overseas territories and the four EFTA states. All existing operators must reapply for authorization, even if they hold authorization from individual EU member states.

The European Commission hopes the new safety authorization will harmonize the application of international aviation safety rules across the EU, making it easier to oversee compliance, simplify and streamline the application process, and complement existing EU air safety regulations.

“While the goal of a single safety standard across the entire EU is a laudable goal, NBAA remains wary of the new burden this new requirement will place on small companies,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “U.S. Part 135 operators represent the majority of the affected air carriers, and it is unknown if EASA is prepared to manage the amount of information necessary for a TCO to demonstrate compliance. NBAA staff have met with EASA officials to explain our concerns, and we have told them that we will be closely watching how this requirement is rolled out, and what impact it is having on the charter companies in NBAA’s Membership.”

A TCO may perform air ambulance flights or a non-scheduled flight or series of flights to overcome an unforeseen, immediate and urgent operational need without first obtaining an authorization under certain circumstances and meeting certain limitations, but may only do so once every 24 months.

The new regulation will be in force on May 26, 2014, and EASA recommends operators apply for TCO authorization within six months of the date in force.

“We recommend U.S. Part 135 operators that fly to the EU review the new requirements and begin evaluating how they will demonstrate compliance with these new rules,” said Carr.

Review a European Commission release announcing the new TCO requirements.