Following the latest revision of the regulation related to operations of Third Country Operators (TCO) to, within or out of EU territories, Regulation (EU) No 2023/659, EASA has published updated Easy Access Rules for Third Country Operators. The document contains the Regulation itself along with associated guidance material (GM), acceptable means of compliance (AMC) and the “General principles related to TCO authorisation procedures”.
The experienced gained since the introduction of the TCO authorisation process in 2014 by the relevant stakeholder (industry, Member States and EASA) has been captured in a structured evaluation of the regulation. The report of this evaluation formed the basis for the changes in the revised regulation. The main objectives of the revision are better clarity of certain provisions, efficiency gains for EASA and industry where possible, more granulated enforcement methods and a better articulation with the EU Safety List. The changes have been developed in close cooperation with the European Commission and have undergone consultation with the stakeholders.
The revised regulation does not entail fundamental changes, but several important adjustments that will make its application easier for stakeholders and will clarify aspects, where ambiguity has triggered questions from stakeholders in the past.
In addition, the following list contains relevant substantial changes in the revised regulation:
One-of notification flights:
- increase of the allowed timeframe to perform one-off notification flights from six to twelve weeks, and
- clarification of the eligibility for these flights.
Initial and reapplication process:
- introduction of the possibility to suspend the assessment of an initial application or reapplication for authorisation when the applicant does not cooperate in the process.
Validity of the TCO authorisation (TCOA):
- deletion of the requirement to perform at least one flight under the TCOA within a 24-month period to maintain the authorisation valid, and
- introduction of the need to operate at least one qualifying aircraft to maintain a valid authorisation.
Continuous Monitoring Assessment (CMA):
- introduction of “intensified surveillance” for operators showing degraded safety performance.
- relaxation of the requirement to revoke an authorisation that is suspended.