Third Country Operators (TCO)

EU safety authorisations for foreign air operators - PART-TCO

One single safety authorisation valid in 32 EASA Member States

Europe has centralised the process to authorise third-country (non-EU) operators performing commercial air transport operations into the EU, thereby replacing various schemes of the 32 EASA Member States currently in place. Instead, a single safety authorisation is issued centrally by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The TCO application form can be found here.


The European Parliament and the Council tasked EASA to manage a single European system for vetting the safety performance of foreign air carriers. In doing so, EASA issues safety authorisations to foreign air carriers when satisfied that they comply with minimum international (ICAO) safety standards.

Applicability of Part-TCO

Any third-country operator that intends to perform commercial air transport (CAT) operations into, within or out of any of the following territories requires a TCO authorisation issued by EASA:

  • the Member States of the European Union
  • the 4 EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)
  • the following territories in which Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, the so called “Basic Regulation” applies: Gibraltar, Åland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Saint-Martin, Mayotte

A TCO authorisation is not required for operators only overflying the abovementioned territories without intended landing.

One-Off notification flights

A regulatory provision  (TCO.305 Non-scheduled flights – one off notification) is available to allow certain flights to be operated without a TCO authorisation. This provision is solely applicable to the following cases:

  • air ambulance flights, and
  • non-scheduled flights “to overcome an unforeseen, immediate and urgent operational need”. Such flights should be performed in the public interest and where the urgency of the mission justifies by-passing the regular TCO assessment process, e.g.humanitarian missions or disaster relief operations.

Risk-based approach

EASA employs a risk-based approach for TCO assessments in that credible data sources are continuously being analysed. The lower EASA’s confidence in a foreign operator’s safety performance or the less credible data available for an operator or the State in which the operator is certified, the more comprehensive the assessment. As an example, for operators with high confidence level a simple and fast desktop review of completed questionnaires and material evidence is sufficient, whereas operators with lowered confidence levels will be invited by EASA to a technical meeting in Cologne, or EASA will request to perform a TCO audit on site.

Authorisation process

Following its TCO assessment, EASA validates the foreign Air Operator Certificate (AOC) by issuing an EASA TCO Authorisation accompanied by Technical Specifications, setting out the scope of operations authorised in the EU. TCO Authorisations are free of fees and charges.

The TCO Authorisation process consists of four distinct phases: Application, Evaluation, Authorisation and Monitoring. A dedicated web-based software application supports communications between EASA and the operator.

The European "Air Safety List"

The European Air Safety List mechanism pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 2111/2005 is governed by the European Commission in Brussels. EASA and the European Commission ensure that both instruments are closely coordinated. Operators subject to a ban or operating restriction in the EU Air Safety List are eligible to apply with EASA for an assessment under Part-TCO.

Further information

A section containing Frequently Asked Questions and additional information is available to stakeholders.

TCO Regulation

Commission Regulation (EU) No. 452/2014 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations of third country operators was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 6 May 2014. Annex 1 (Part-TCO) contains the requirements for the operator, while the authority requirements regarding the authorisation of foreign operators are laid down in Annex 2 (Part-ART).

EASA has published associated Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM). This document is available in the document library (Part-TCO/ AMC/GM) of our website.

How third-country operators should apply

  1. Study the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 452/2014 and AMC/Guidance Material.
  2. Appoint a focal point for TCO Authorisation in your organisation.
  3. Subscribe to TCO “Latest news” to stay abreast latest developments.
  4. Visit the Agency’s TCO website periodically for updates and answers to frequently asked questions.
  5. If your operation is subject to Part-TCO, download the application form and apply for a TCO Authorisation.
  6. If you do not hold a TCO authorisation and you intend to perform an air ambulance flight or other urgent flight performed in the public interest (e.g. humanitarian missions or disaster relief operations), download and submit the One-off notification form.
  7. Address questions to TCO [at] easa [dot] europa [dot] eu (TCO [at] easa [dot] europa [dot] eu.)

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