TCO - Latest News

Latest News

  • 24/11/2016 PRESS RELEASE: End of Third Country Operators’ transition period
  • 24/10/2016: Information for Third Country Operators (TCO): EASA position with respect to air operators’ Safety Management Systems (SMS) under Third Country Operator (TCO) Authorisations


    Pursuant to the ‘TCO Regulation’[1] of the European Commission, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is responsible to issue Third Country Operator (TCO) Authorisations to commercial air operators (as defined in ICAO Annex 6, Parts I and III) certified in a non-EASA State that apply to operate to destinations in European member States, European Free Trade Association members, and their territories in which EU regulations apply. All those third country operators must have a TCO Authorisation by 26 November 2016[2].

    The TCO authorisation process managed by EASA requires operators to comply with applicable ICAO standards and to make certain declarations to EASA. The applicable ICAO standards include those in Annex 19 (Safety Management) to the Chicago Convention.

    Annex 19 standards require AOC holders authorised for international commercial air transport to establish an SMS acceptable to the State of the Operator, in accordance with the framework elements contained in Appendix 2 [of Annex 19], and commensurate with the size and complexity of operations[3]. Comprehensive guidance on the implementation of the framework for an SMS is contained in the Safety Management Manual (SMM) (ICAO Doc 9859), including a phased implementation approach[4].

    It is against this background that EASA, in the ambit of TCO authorisation, requires operators to establish an SMS and declare the maturity of their SMS corresponding to the four implementation phases proposed as per the ICAO SMS framework.


    As of 26 November 2016, international standards for SMS become enforceable under the EU’s TCO Regulation and need to be complied with in order to obtain or maintain EASA TCO Authorisation. EASA had repetitively communicated on the above.

    Within the auspices of TCO authorisation, the SMS requirement equally applies to operators certified in States that may not have established national requirements for SMS implementation for all or a part of their certified commercial air transport operators.

    Operators are required to make a self-declaration of their SMS implementation status in section II of the “Basic Operator Data” form in TCO web-interface. EASA reserves the right to verify the actual status of implementation during the initial TCO authorisation process and as part of the continuous monitoring programme. EASA does not currently accept, as an equivalence or substitution for the verification of operator’s compliance with Annex 19 standards, a voluntary participation in, or certification/registration by, third-party industry programmes.


    Annex 19 to the Chicago Convention is fully applicable, and SMS is a long-standing requirement for air operators certified in the EU.

    The TCO Regulation is part of the EU’s framework aimed at ensuring a high level of civil aviation safety in the European Union.

    On 26 November 2016, the 30-months transitional period intended to achieve full implementation of the TCO authorisation programme will end.

    EASA shall issue authorisations when it is satisfied that a third country operator has established compliance with the applicable requirements of Part-TCO, including with Annex 19.

    Corresponding to the ICAO framework for SMS implementation, EASA considers that only SMS as of Phase 2 onwards will have established essential safety management processes and are therefore considered when determining compliance with applicable Annex 19 standards.

    EASA position

    1. After 26 November 2016, a level 1 finding pursuant to ART.230(b) of the TCO Regulation will be issued by EASA against all third country operators (holders or not of a TCO Authorisation) when their SMS is still at Phase 1 implementation. Those operators will be afforded two (2) weeks to achieve accomplishment of SMS Phase 2 and to inform EASA accordingly; and
      1. Operators that will have achieved SMS Phase 2 within the timeline: see point (2) below; or
      2. Operators that will not have achieved SMS Phase 2 within the timeline: refusal of TCO application or suspension of TCO Authorisation, as applicable.
    2. For third country operators having applied to EASA for a TCO Authorisation before 26 November 2016 and having achieved Phase 2 of SMS implementation by that date, a Level 2 TCO finding pursuant to ART.230(c) of the TCO Regulation will be raised by EASA. Those operators will be afforded four (4) weeks to develop and obtain from EASA formal acceptance of their corrective action plan aimed at achieving SMS Phase 3 by 31 December 2017.

      Operators unable to demonstrate achievement of SMS Phase 3 by 31 December 2017 will face suspension of their TCO Authorisation.

    3. For new TCO applicants from 27 November 2016 onwards, an SMS below Phase 2 will lead to a level 1 finding pursuant to ART.230(b). For SMS in Phase 2, a level 2 finding pursuant to ART.230(c) of the TCO Regulation will be raised by EASA.


    [1] Commission Regulation (EU) No 452/2014 of 29 April 2014 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations of third country operators pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 79, 19.3.2008, p. 1)
    [2] End of the TCO transitional period as established in Article 4 of the aforementioned Regulation.
    [3] Chapter 4.1 of Annex 19 to the Chicago Convention
    [4] Chapter 5.5 of ICAO Doc 9859

  • 29/09/2016: Information for Third Country Operators (TCO): Compliance with ICAO requirements on pilot proficiency checks
    To all EASA TCO Authorisation holder or applicant, Please be informed that, starting 26 November 2016 marking the end of the TCO transition period, one of the focus areas of EASA’s TCO continuous monitoring activities will be compliance with Annex 6 to the Chicago Convention, Part I, Chapter 9, Standard This international safety standard requires operators to perform pilot proficiency checks twice within any period of one year to ensure that piloting technique and the ability to execute emergency procedures is demonstrated. It is applicable to both the Pilot-in-Command (Commander) and to the Second-in-Command (First Officer). A dedicated question regarding this subject will be added to the EASA ‘Basic Operator Data’ (BOD) questionnaire in the TCO web-interface in due time.
  • 11/12/2015: Information to Third Country Operators (TCO): EASA introduces important alleviation for Business Aviation Operators

    Under Part-TCO, EASA requires third country operators to apply for a prior authorisation before a new fleet with different ICAO type designator can be used for flights under their TCO authorisation.

    Until now, business jet operators needed to apply with EASA for prior re-authorisation before operating a new aircraft fleet (different ICAO designator) under their TCO Authorisation. In order to facilitate the specific needs of the Business Aviation sector, EASA has introduced an important alleviation for this industry segment:

    Business aviation aircraft falling into a class specified by EASA for TCO purposes will be combined in a single TCO Specification Sheet called “TCO Business Aircraft”. New aircraft types meeting the criteria may be used by the TCO Authorisation holder right upon notification of that new aircraft to EASA using the Agency’s online ‘TCO Web-Interface’. A prior explicit approval from EASA is not any longer required.

    It remains the responsibility of the operator to ensure that new aircraft are compliant with all applicable international standards. EASA will continue to perform a technical assessment of the fleet, but will not issue a separate specification sheet any longer. This ensures that the safety objective is met with less paperwork involved.

    In order to qualify for the combined specifications under “TCO Business Aircraft” the following criteria must be met:

    1. The operator’s primary business is non-scheduled passenger transport, business aviation or the conduct of air ambulance flights; and
    2. The new fleet:
      1. is not used for scheduled operations;
      2. is a multi-engine passenger aeroplane;
      3. is operated by multi-crew;
      4. does not exceed an MCTM of 45 500 kg;
      5. is not authorized to carry more than 19 passengers;
      6. holds an EASA type certificate;
      7. holds a standard Certificate of Airworthiness;
      8. is compliant with all applicable international standards.

    The decision to issue combined specifications for “TCO Business Aircraft” is at the sole discretion of EASA and depends among other factors on the safety performance of the operator.

    It is neither necessary nor desired that operators explicitly apply for this alleviation. EASA will grant this alleviation at the next opportunity to qualifying operators, whenever the conditions are met.

  • 22/07/2015: TCAS Version 7.1 requirement in EU airspace

    According to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1332/2011 (the 'ACAS II Regulation'), it is important to remind all operators that the EU requires ACAS II version 7.1 ahead of ICAO.

    For all aircraft with a maximum take-off mass in excess of 5700kg, the following deadline applies for ACAS II upgrade to version 7.1:

    • 01 March 2012 for airplanes with an initial individual certificate of airworthiness issued after 01 March 2012; and
    • 01 December 2015 for airplanes with an initial individual certificate of airworthiness issued before 01 March 2012

    More information can be found on EASA ( and EUROCONTROL ( websites.

    Following this ACAS II Regulation (and its implementation times ahead of ICAO), non-compliant airplanes may be excluded from TCO Authorisation for operations within EU airspace.

    Please be informed that non-compliant aircraft identified during ramp inspections after 01 December 2015 may be subject to immediate enforcement action.

  • 02/07/2015: EASA has issued the first authorisations to third country operators
  • 27/11/2014: EU Third Countries Operators (TCO) application phase has terminated

    During the 6 months application phase, EASA has received approximately 600 applications.

    According to the TCO regulation, EASA has now two years’ time (transition period) to process all applications, so until 26 November 2016.
    The order followed to evaluate all applications received is at the discretion of EASA.

    The operator must ensure that the data submitted via the TCO web-interface remains current at all times, in particular with respect to fleet information.
    Operators shall continue to follow EU Member States national procedures to obtain operating permits for flights to the EU, until EASA has taken a decision on the application for a TCO authorisation.

    It is important to highlight that during the transition period EU Member States are still entitled to perform safety assessments on those operators which have not yet received the TCO Authorisation from EASA .

    Operators that have failed to meet the deadline are asked to submit their application immediately. EU Member States may withhold operating permits to commercial operators without a submitted TCO authorisation application to EASA.

  • 17/09/2014: EU application deadline for third country operators is approaching

    The deadline to apply for a TCO Authorisation is 26th November 2014.
    As of today, many third-country operators have not submitted their application yet.
    Once the application has been received, EASA will conduct a safety evaluation of the technical questionnaire provided by the third-country operator to grant the TCO Authorisation.

    All non-European commercial operators holding operating permits to any EASA Member State are invited to submit the TCO Authorisation application as soon as possible.

  • 06/05/2014: TCO Regulation published in the Official Journal of the European Union

    Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) available for download.
    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.
    The TCO regulation will enter into force on 26 May 2014.

  • 29/04/2014: Third Country Operators (TCO): New single EU-wide safety authorisation for foreign airlines flying to the European Union

    The European Commission adopted today a new Regulation paving the way for airlines from outside the European Union to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorisation to fly to, from or within the EU. Foreign airlines will no longer be required to make a separate application for a safety authorisation to each EU Member State they want to fly to, as is the case now.The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will provide the authorisation which will be valid throughout the whole EU and will confirm EU-wide compliance with international safety standards. EC Press Release .

EASA provides a web based tool to stay abreast with the latest developments regarding the implementation of Part TCO

EASA will continue to publish relevant news related to the TCO Authorisation on this page. Interested parties are invited to subscribe to automatic notifications on the further development of Part-TCO. Information may include authorisation and transitional measures. Subscribing will also help stay informed about important TCO timelines. EASA will not use your data for any purpose other than related to the authorisation of third country operators.

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