Published on June 19th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


Commission updates EU air safety list – Iran and Africa make progress

On 16th June, the European Commission published an updated EU Air Safety List. This is the list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban, or operational restrictions, within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted in December 2015.

The EU Air Safety List is made pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 2111/2005 of the European Parliament and the Council of 14th December 2005 and on the basis of the advice of the EU Air Safety Committee. Airlines on the list are subject to either, a complete, or a partial operating ban, within the European Union, for failure to adhere to the applicable international safety standards. This latest update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the safety experts from the Member States, who met from 31st May to 2nd June, within the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC). This Committee is chaired by the European Commission, with the support of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Assessment is made against international safety standards, and notably the standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Iran Air A320 (IMG9975 JL)

Most aircraft from Iran Air are allowed back into European skies. Jim Lee.

Following this update, a total of 216 airlines are banned from EU skies; 214 airlines certified in 19 states, due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states and two individual airlines, based on safety concerns, namely Iraqi Airways (Iraq) and Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname). With the latest changes, all airlines certified in Zambia are cleared from the list, along with Air Madagascar and three airlines certified in Indonesia (Citilink, Lion Air and Batik Air). The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but it also helps affected countries to improve their levels of safety, in order for them to eventually be taken off the list. In addition, the Air Safety List has become a major preventive tool, as it motivates countries with safety problems to act upon them before a ban under the Air Safety List would become necessary.

An additional six airlines are subject to operational restrictions and can only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types: Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG (Gabon), Air Koryo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros), Iran Air (Iran) and TAAG Angola Airlines (Angola). See full list here.

In case of Iran Air, most of its aircraft with the exception of its Fokker F100s and Boeing 747 are allowed to resume operations to the EU. Iran Air has 16 Fokker F100s and five Boeing 747s, as well as 13 Airbus A300 B2/B4/600s, two Airbus A310-200/300s and six Airbus A320-200s. In the case of Air Koryo, only its two Tupolev Tu-204-100/300s, P-632 and P-633, may fly within the European Union.

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc

Commenting on the changes, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Aviation safety is my top priority and today’s update illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of air safety to European citizens. I am happy to say that after seven years of work and extensive European technical assistance, we were able to clear all Zambian air carriers from the list. Following my visit to Iran in April, a technical assessment was successfully carried out in May. Based on this I am happy to announce that we are now also able to allow most aircraft from Iran Air back into European skies.”

Iran Air has been constrained by an elderly, inefficient and maintenance heavy fleet.

For Iran Air this announcement is particularly important, as it’s begins a fleet renewal process. Currently constrained by an elderly, inefficient and maintenance heavy fleet, Iran Air has a network of some 27 international and 25 domestic destinations, with the vast majority of its operations limited to flights of around seven hours. The two exceptions are flights to Beijing and to Kuala Lumpur operated by Boeing 747SPs delivered in the late 70s. On the 28th January last, it signed an historic agreement in Paris, for 118 new aircraft. Covered in this agreement are aircraft from all of Airbus’ in-production jetliner families, designed to provide Iran Air with a modern, highly efficient fleet capable of meeting its full air transport needs – from regional routes to high-density, long-haul operations. The specific aircraft involved are; 21 A320ceo Family and 24 A320neo Family jetliners, 27 from the A330ceo Family, 18 A330-900neo aircraft, 16 A350-1000s and 12 A380s. While no delivery schedule was outlined, Airbus said at the time that deliveries could start as early as this year. In addition, the airline is also in discussions with Boeing, regarding a potential order, and its Chief Executive Farhad Parvaresh has confirmed that it has met twice with the U.S. company and that talks are progressing and the airline’s website is confirming that an offer has been made by Boeing.

Aviation is particularly important for the European economy contributing around €91 billion to the GDP of the EU, which is more than twice the GDP of Croatia. In 2012, over 842 million passengers used EU airports, which is roughly 28% of all passengers worldwide. Under current trends and policies, air passenger transport is expected to increase by about 70% from 2010 to 2030.

The European Commission is also committed to working with aviation authorities worldwide to raise global safety standards. With the support of the European Commission, EASA is implementing technical cooperation projects with partner countries and regions. One example is the SIASA project (Supporting the improvement of air safety in Sub-Saharan Africa). Through this project, EASA works with Sub-Saharan African countries and regional organisations to raise common safety standards, enhance safety oversight and reinforce expertise.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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