Before a newly developed aircraft model may enter into operation, it must obtain a type certificate from the responsible aviation regulatory authority. Since 2003, EASA is responsible for the certification of aircraft in the EU and for some European non-EU Countries. This certificate testifies that the type of aircraft meets the safety requirements set by the European Union.
The 4 steps of the type-certification process:
- Technical Familiarisation and Certification Basis
The aircraft manufacturer presents the project to EASA when it is considered to have reached a sufficient degree of maturity. The EASA certification team and the set of rules that will apply for the certification of this specific aircraft type are being established (Certification Basis).
- Establishment of the Certification Programme
EASA and the manufacturer need to define and agree on the means to demonstrate compliance of the aircraft type with each requirement of the Certification Basis. This goes hand in hand with the identification of EASA’s “level of involvement” during the certification process.
- Compliance demonstration
The aircraft manufacturer must demonstrate compliance of its product with regulatory requirements: the structure, engines, control systems, electrical systems and flight performance are analysed against the Certification Basis. This compliance demonstration is done by analysis during ground testing (such as tests on the structure to withstand bird strikes, fatigue tests and tests in simulators) but also by means of tests during flight. EASA experts perform a detailed examination of this compliance demonstration, by means of document reviews in their offices in Cologne and by attending some of these compliance demonstrations (test witnessing).
This is the longest phase of the type-certification process. In the case of large aircraft, the period to complete the compliance demonstration is set at five years and may be extended, if necessary.
- Technical closure and issue of approval
If technically satisfied with the compliance demonstration by the manufacturer, EASA closes the investigation and issues the certificate. EASA delivers the primary certification for European aircraft models which are also being validated in parallel by foreign authorities for operation in their airspaces, e.g. the FAA for the US or TCCA for Canada. Conversely, EASA will validate the FAA certification of US aircraft models (or TCCA certification of Canadian models) according to applicable Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements between the EU and the concerned Third Country.