Air Operations explained

The provisions of the Regulation on Air Operations are published in several documents: Implementing Rules (published in the Official Journal of the European Union as Commission Regulation and subsequent amending regulations) and associated Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC), Guidance Material (GM) and Certification Specifications (published on the Agency website as Decisions).
Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations includes provisions for commercial operations, for non-commercial operations and for specialised operations (e.g. aerial work).
Further information on the draft and final requirements can be found in the Explanatory Notes accompanying those documents on the Agency website and in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Air OPS Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 and its amendments

  • Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 25/10/2012. The initial issue covered only commercial air transport operations with aeroplanes and helicopters. It entered into force and became applicable on 28/10/2012.
  • Regulation (EU) No 800/2013 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations covers non-commercial operations with aeroplanes, helicopters, balloons and sailplanes (in Annex VI Part-NCC on complex motor-powered aircraft and Annex VII Part-NCO on other-than-complex motor-powered aircraft) and it also includes the consequent changes to the previously published Annexes I to V. The regulation entered into force and became applicable on 25/08/2013.
  • Regulation (EU) No 71/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 28.01.2014. It covers the requirements related to the operational suitability data, thus closing the gap between aircraft design and operations. The OSD requirements mandate that aircraft manufacturers, including those building helicopters, submit data which EASA considers important for safe operation. OSD covers pilot training, maintenance staff and simulator qualification; the master minimum equipment list (MMEL); and possibly other areas, depending on the aircraft’s systems. More information can be found here.
  • Regulation (EU) No 83/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 31/01/2014. It covers flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements for CAT operations with aeroplanes.
  • Regulation (EU) No 379/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24/04/2014. It completes the Air Operations (Air OPS) regulatory package as Annex VIII Part-SPO. It includes the technical requirements for commercial specialised air operations with aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes and balloons and non-commercial specialised air operations with complex aeroplanes and complex helicopters. It also includes new provisions for CAT operations with balloons and sailplanes and CAT operations starting and ending at the same aerodrome with smaller aeroplanes/helicopters.

    Diagrams illustrating the rule structure are available here.


Implementation

Transition periods for Regulation (EU) 965/2012 on Air Operations

  • Regulation (EU) 965/2012 on Air Operations provides the EASA Member States with the flexibility to postpone the applicability of the new Regulation in its various parts. The 'opt-out' can be considered as a form of transition measure applicable to Member States. If Member States decide to delay the date of applicability of the new regulation, they will have to notify the European Commission and the Agency of the ‘opt-out’, describing the reasons for their decision and the programme for implementation.
  • Article 10 of the Cover Regulation allows for a general opt-out as follows:
    • from Annexes I to V to commercial air operations until 28 October 2014;
    • from Annex III to non-commercial operations with complex motor-powered aeroplanes and helicopters until 25 August 2016; and
    • from Annexes V, VI and VII to non-commercial operations with aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes and balloons until 25 August 2016;
    • from Annexes II, III, VII and VIII to specialised operations until 21 April 2017;
    • from Annexes II, III and IV to:
      • CAT operations starting and ending at the same aerodrome/operating site with Performance class B aeroplanes or non-complex helicopters until 21 April 2017; and
      • CAT operations with balloons and sailplanes until 21 April 2017.
  • EASA has provided a transition period for the industry to comply with the OSD requirements. MMELs for in-production models, for example, must be approved by 18/12/2015, or before the aircraft is operated by an EU operator, whichever is the latest.
  • The flexibility provisions are available to parts of or the whole Regulation. Until that date, EU-OPS and national rules implementing JAR-OPS 3 continue to apply.
  • Further information on the dates at which the rules apply for each Member State is available here.

Note on transition

  • The European Commission has prepared a revised ‘note on transition’ describing the mechanisms that should be applied by Member States and the Agency during the transition from former EU-OPS/JAR-OPS 3 or national rules to the new OPS implementing rules. While the note covered initially commercial air transport operations with aeroplanes and helicopters only, it is now extended to also include the new Regulations on flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements for commercial air transport by aeroplane, on non-commercial operations and the future regulation on specialised operations. The implementation of the new rules falls under the responsibility of the Member States. The note is not binding on the Member States and it is the responsibility of the Member States to communicate to their operators how they plan to master the transition phase. Further questions concerning the transition should be directed to the responsible national authority.
  • The note does not constitute any legal opinion or commitment of the Commission or the Agency. Consequently it should not be relied upon as a statement, as any form of warranty, representation, undertaking, or other commitment binding in law upon the European Aviation Safety Agency. EASA shall not be liable for any kind of damages or other claims or demands incurred as a result of incorrect, insufficient or invalid information contained in the note, or arising out of or in connection with the use of the information, to the extent permitted by European and National laws. This disclaimer is not intended to limit the liability of EASA in contravention of any requirements laid down in applicable national law or to exclude its liability for matters which may not be excluded under that law.

How different from EU-OPS and JAR-OPS 3 are the new rules of Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 and its amendments?

The Agency has compiled a table comparing the new Regulation on Air Operations with the provisions of EU-OPS and JAR-OPS 3 (amendment 5). It is available here. The table:

  • provides a cross-reference between the new Regulation on Air Operations with EU-OPS and JAR-OPS 3 (both the rules in ‘Section 1’ and the ACJ/AMC/IEM of ‘Section 2’);
  • indicates for each rule, ACJ, AMC, IEM related to EU-OPS and JAR-OPS 3 whether the provisions are transposed without introducing a content change, if they are amended, or if they are not transposed. For each entry where some change is introduced, a short explanation on the difference is provided. For new rules not originating from EU-OPS or JAR-OPS3, a short explanation is provided;
  • is provided for information purposes only. The Agency intends to update this table and welcomes feedback from stakeholders via the EASA web form

Exemptions and derogations according to Article 14 of the Basic Regulation (EC No 216/2008)

  • Member States have the flexibility to derogate from the Implementing Rules of the Basic Regulation (as set out in Article 14 of the Basic Regulation - Regulation (EC) No 216/2008). Further information is available here.

How can alternative means of compliance to the AMC published by the Agency be used by NAAs, operators and approved training organisations across the EU?

Reference: Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations: ARO.GEN.120; Decision AMC/GM to Part-ARO: AMC1 ARO.GEN.120(d)(3), GM1 ARO.GEN.120

In accordance with the provisions set out in the Air operations regulations, ARO.GEN.120, NAAs are required to notify the Agency of alternative means of compliance approved within their State.
The only means of compliance to the Aircrew / Air OPS Regulations that all organisations can use across the EU are the AMC as published by the Agency. For alternative means of compliance, the following scenarios are foreseen:

  • an alternative means of compliance approved for an individual organisation may be used by another organisation, but that organisation must also apply for approval to use such alternative means of compliance;
  • an alternative means of compliance issued by the competent authority (e.g. NAA) may be used by all organisations for which that authority is responsible.

Whenever the competent authority accepts an alternative means of compliance proposed by an organisation, it must notify the Agency and inform all other Member States. However, each Member State may decide how to deal with this information. This is explained in:

Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air Operations:

ARO.GEN.120:

“(d) The competent authority shall evaluate all alternative means of compliance proposed by an organisation in accordance with ORO.GEN.120 (b) by analysing the documentation provided and, if considered necessary, conducting an inspection of the organisation.
When the competent authority finds that the alternative means of compliance are in accordance with the Implementing Rules, it shall without undue delay:

(1) notify the applicant that the alternative means of compliance may be implemented and, if applicable, amend the approval or certificate of the applicant accordingly; and

(2) notify the Agency of their content, including copies of all relevant documentation.

(3) inform other Member States about alternative means of compliance that were accepted.

(e) When the competent authority itself uses alternative means of compliance to achieve compliance with Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 and its Implementing Rules it shall:

(1) make them available to all organisations and persons under its oversight; and

(2) without undue delay notify the Agency.

The competent authority shall provide the Agency with a full description of the alternative means of compliance, including any revisions to procedures that may be relevant, as well as an assessment demonstrating that the Implementing Rules are met.”

AMC1 ARO.GEN.120(d)(3): Means of compliance

“GENERAL
The information to be provided to other Member States following approval of an alternative means of compliance should contain a reference to the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) to which such means of compliance provides an alternative, as well as a reference to the corresponding Implementing Rule, indicating as applicable the subparagraph(s) covered by the alternative means of compliance.”

GM1 ARO.GEN.120 Means of compliance

“GENERAL
Alternative means of compliance used by a competent authority or by organisations under its oversight may be used by other competent authorities or organisations only if processed again in accordance with ARO.GEN.120 (d) and (e).”


Important links

  • Frequently asked questions
    If you still cannot find the answer that you are looking for, please send us your question
  • EASA presentations
    They are available on the Events page, under the related event
  • Certificates, approvals, authorisations
    For questions related to your certificate or approvals listed under the OPSPECS, please contact the NAA that issued it.
  • Training
    The Agency provides training on the Aircrew and Air Operations regulations (and on other regulations).
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