The aviation industry operates in environments which are highly challenging, due to the varied conditions in which aircraft are operated, such as extremes of temperature and humidity, and the stringent aviation safety requirements which must be met. To respond to these challenges, the aviation industry has used and will need to continue to use high-performance preparations, mixtures and formulations, some of which contain substances which have been placed in Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation 1907/2006 – implemented by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – or which could be placed there in future.
Placing a substance in Annex XIV means that, if no suitable alternatives are available by the ‘sunset date’, the aviation industry will need to seek authorisation to continue to use it. To be suitable, alternatives must perform in such a way as to allow the aviation industry to continue to comply with the strict airworthiness standards established by Regulation 216/2008 and its associated Implementing Rules, and they can only be deemed available once they have passed through the extensive approval process by which compliance with this regulation is demonstrated.
The critical reliance of the aviation industry on Annex XIV substances, and the difficulty in finding and adopting suitable alternatives, mean there has been concern in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the aviation industry generally to ensure that the REACH authorisation requirements do not lead to unnecessary disruption to normal operations in aviation. Accordingly, in October 2012, EASA approached ECHA to explore how the two Agencies could cooperate to ensure that the key requirements of the application for authorisation process can be implemented whilst still allowing airworthiness standards to be met.