The Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Mr Patrick Ky and the Deputy Administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Mr Li Jian opened the first joint Safety Conference organised by the two administrations. The conference brought together not only the authorities, but also leading CEOs from the European and Chinese aviation industry, as well as attracting more than 40 members of the domestic and international media.
The conference marks a new high in aviation ties between the European Union and China, which have steadily grown closer in recent years. In the presence of CAAC Administrator Feng Zhenglin and the European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport Mr Henrik Hololei, leading members of the aviation community discussed progress on establishing a future Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between China and the European Union. Trends defining the future of aviation safety were discussed in the different panels of the conference. Topics included implementing efficient safety management systems for maintenance, new technologies and developments in the field of aircraft navigation systems, as well as efforts to promote the wider use of rotorcraft in China.
The plenary session discussed the benefits that a bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) may bring, especially in the context of ongoing negotiations between the European Union (EU) and China. In broad terms, a BASA would provide a mechanism for a more efficient validation and oversight progress for authorities and industry.
uring the discussions the panelists from the EU, CAAC, EASA and as well as industry from Europe and China agreed that a BASA can create substantial benefits in terms of efficiency. Such a mode of cooperation would have the potential to bring clarity, thus promoting safety, the certainty provided by a BASA in terms of validation processes enhance their ability to estimate important parameters such as costs and time considerations, e.g. entry into service.
Participants also found that beyond seeking compliance with rules, it is important to learn from each other through increasing cooperation for an equal and high level of safety between the EU and China. For the cooperation to be successful, participants agreed that developing mutual trust in the respective rules and procedures is important. The EU and China will continue their efforts to agree on a BASA in the near future.
Panel Discussion on Aircraft Navigation Systems
Panel members discussed developments in airborne technologies and explored their impact on air traffic management and aircraft navigation systems. As the regulator in China, CAAC explained their roadmap for the implementation of these new technologies.
Currently, there are about 3,000 civilian aircraft in use in China. The total fleet is growing quickly with one aircraft entering the market every day. Every new Airbus aircraft is equipped with ADS-B technology and about 1,500 aircraft in the market are manufactured by Airbus.
Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS–B) is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The information can be received by air traffic control ground stations as a replacement for secondary radar. It can also be received by other aircraft to provide situational awareness and allow self-separation.
A technology upgrade for better air navigation is needed, since China has no complete radar coverage over its territory. Especially the western parts and provinces of China lack radar coverage due to geographic conditions, which include some important air routes such as those leading from the Pearl River Delta to the Northwest Chinese province of Xinjiang.
The CAAC Flight Standards Department has published a roadmap for implementation of ADS-B in all civilian aircraft over the next three years. According to CAAC, the current number of civilian aircraft equipped with the technology is already above 80%. Major investments in ADS-B ground stations are planned for the same period and European companies such as Thales are ready to support the process of building up and implement this technology.
Panel Discussion on General Aviation Rulemaking and Oversight
The panel members discussed general aviation rulemaking, oversight and civil helicopter operations in Europe and China as a unique form of transport. This included recent and future developments, the role of the manufacturer in achieving the appropriate safety level, understanding the risk environment, certification specifications, regulations from the operator’s point of view, as well as the development of helicopter operations in China, specifically for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS).
The general aviation sector is growing in China and HEMS operations are beginning to emerge. CAAC highlighted their commitment in terms of developing the policy that will facilitate GA operations and specifically HEMS. To that effect CAAC aims to put in place proportionate GA rules. The development of HEMS is a priority due to its added value for the society. European participants pledged their support for these efforts as Europe has a long-standing HEMS experience. The HEMS sector could therefore be a good starting point for productive cooperation on developing a strong regulatory framework that will enable and facilitate helicopter services in China.
The Conference not only brought together the leadership of CAAC, EASA and key stakeholders from the aviation industry but also provided an excellent opportunity to tighten bilateral aviation relations between Europe and China. As a testament of the strong relationship between the two authorities, a Joint Statement on Cooperation between CAAC and EASA was signed by EASA Executive Director Mr Patrick Ky and CAAC Deputy Administrator Mr Li Jian. The Statement reiterated their commitment to aviation safety by continuously sharing information and best practices on organisational and technical developments in the respective aviation safety systems as well as on-going information and data exchange to further improve aviation safety in China, Europe and beyond.
As Mr Ky pointed out in his concluding remarks: the Conference and accompanying discussions between Administrator Mr Feng and Director General Mr Hololei contributed to the convergence of views on aviation developments and cooperation between the EU and China. The friendly relations greatly compliment technical and business interests and cooperation across all stakeholders in the aviation industry.
Further underlining the success of the 1st CAAC-EASA Aviation Safety Conference, Mr Ky and Mr Jian agreed to establish a tradition of bi-annual conferences, the next one to be organised in 2019 in Europe.
The Safety Conference was supported by the EU-China Aviation Partnership Project (APP). APP is an initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by EASA and CAAC, with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the EU and China at an official and authority level linking technical cooperation with policy dialogue. This is reflected in the project's objective of strengthening the economic partnership between the EU and China in the civil aviation domain. To learn more about the project and its ongoing activities, please visit: www.eu-china-app.org.