Regulation of aviation in Europe

One thing that isn’t unionized in the European Union is regulation of aviation. All of the member nations belong to the ICAO and there is an EU agency (EASA) that does most of the same stuff as our FAA. However, there is yet another layer of regulation on a per-country basis. “They can’t be less restrictive than ICAO, but they can add restrictions,” said a local pilot. “Every time a plane takes off, the Irish Aviation Authority considers that it has failed.”

It sounds reasonable for a country to have its own FAA-style agency. But Ireland’s population is 4.7 million. Should Metro Atlanta or South Carolina have its own FAA? Estonia, with a population of 1.3 million, also has its own aviation regulatory authority (can there be more than a handful of airplanes based in Estonia?).

4 thoughts on “Regulation of aviation in Europe

  1. Hmm. I don’t know why Estonia would have its own FAA-style authority except that it was some bizarre artifact of administration that got preserved because it was convenient? Which says nothing. It doesn’t make much sense to me except possibly as a vestige of each nation’s pre-EU military? Since they can’t be less restrictive, they just exist legally to make things tougher for their own country? This happens quite often with local governments in the US, where some state law prevails but municipalities are free to be even tougher if they want to. See, for example, firearms licensing in many states.

    All of that is speculative, but I’ll bet I know someone who has a much better answer than I do:

    Brian Havel at McGill University in Montreal. He’s one of Václav Havel’s nephews IIRC. Check the CV on his web page, he earned his B.A. at Trinity and his LL.M. at University College Dublin.

  2. I think, legally, each sovereign (despite EU membership) country is responsible for its own airspace. Local laws apply, at least when a flight departs or arrives in said country. So in practice, EASA dreams up the rules (= take ICAO or FAR and add some nuisances), and then each national aviation authority gets a year or so to implement those rules in their own, national regulations. (With some options to be more restrictive, maybe.)
    Stupid. Copy-paste FAR would do a better job for Europe probably. But I think that’s how the thinking goes…

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