Brexit and Why Business Aviation Needs to Take Action Today


Private aviation pilots flying throughout Europe need to start taking contingency actions today, ahead of Brexit finalization

With all eyes focused on the United Kingdom’s (UK) proposed March 2019 exit from the European Union (EU), those in the aviation industry, particularly private aviation pilots flying throughout Europe, need to start taking contingency actions today, in an effort to ensure a smooth transition.

Where Brexit Stands
UK Prime Minister Theresa May delayed the parliamentary vote on Brexit this week, and Brussels has stated that the deal cannot be renegotiated.  The current deal includes a “comprehensive air transport agreement” for UK-EU flights during the planned transition period but it would not apply if the UK left the EU without a deal.

If no long-term deal is agreed between the EU and the UK, commercial pilots (Part-FCL) may need to take proactive measures of transferring their licenses to ensure their continuity of service is not disrupted by Brexit. Actions required will ultimately depend on individual circumstances and are a matter for each business and pilot to consider.

Even the more favorable possibilities, such as a Brexit transition phase to be agreed following the UK’s withdrawal date in March 2019, hold a high degree of uncertainty and risk for air services. UK-based pilots should start preparing now for a possible European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) departure, which will directly impact intra-European private aviation flights.

We recommend that pilots transfer their license now, because it’s a simple process to execute between EASA countries. One of the major advantages of being a registered European Operator is the Open Skies Agreement. Under current EU laws, European operators can fly to and from any European airport.

If pilots wait until after Brexit, and the UK is no longer part of EASA, they may need to retake their ATPL, which is akin to having to retake your written driver’s test. Should this be restricted, it could mean that some European pilots could no longer be UK based, reducing competition for UK-registered companies. 

However, it is key that we keep a very close eye on the UK’s pending exit from the EU. Many associations, such as the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), has had analysis conducted, “spelling out the different scenarios of what might happen on EASA, traffic rights, customs, and all issues that can impede the efficiency and the economic viability of operations,” says EBAA Secretary-General Athar Husain Kahn, in a media interview.

Regardless of the outcome of the UK’s eventual withdrawal in March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has implored Britain to remain in the EASA at least as a “third country member” and said all parties should work toward retaining the status quo on security measures.

Calling on the two parties to bring more certainty to the air transport sector surrounding Brexit, IATA pinpointed three critical issues it relayed to its members—continuing air connectivity, safety and security frameworks, and efficient border management—as requiring urgent attention.

The Civil Aviation Authority outlines the steps pilots can take and answers questions regarding the impact Brexit will have. This page sets what you need to consider preparing for such an eventuality.

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