Continuing Safety Oversight Problems Prompt EC Action
Concerns with the lack of
improvement in Bulgaria's civil aviation oversight function has
prompted the European Commission (EC) to exclude the country from
joining the European Union (EU) aviation market. Bulgaria applied
for membership in the EU in 1995 and the country is set to complete
the process to become a full member next month.
As ANN reported, the EC
warned Bulgaria in September of a possible aviation exclusion if it
couldn't meet EU aviation safety goals.
A recent European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) inspection has
apparently failed to allay those previously voiced fears. The EASA
says there is still "considerable risk" Bulgaria won't fully comply
with EU aviation safety rules in time.
In a statement, the EC said, "The deficiencies that have been
identified by EASA concern important shortcomings in the
administrative capacity of the Bulgarian CAA in the field of safety
oversight in general, and for the certification of airworthiness
and maintenance of aircraft. The number of CAA staff is
insufficient and their level of training is generally inadequate to
perform their duties at the required level."
Despite previous threats, none of Bulgaria's carriers will be
fully blacklisted on the Continent; they are only excluded from
full integration in EU's internal aviation market.
What this means is although Bulgaria will be a full member
of the European Union, airworthiness and maintenance certifications
issued in Bulgaria won't be automatically recognized by other
member countries. Additionally, Bulgarian carriers won't have
unrestricted access on EU routes.
Its airlines, however, will continue to serve the routes they
already do -- as third-country operators.
The EC's statement did save a little warning for the end,
however, concluding, "We are urgently assessing the situation of
each Bulgarian carrier and we will draw our conclusion which will
be forwarded to the EU Air Safety Committee in February."
A spokesman says EC officials have assurances from the Bulgarian
transport minister that his country is taking steps to improve the