Aerodromes (ADR)

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Aerodromes

ADR.1 Which aerodromes fall under the EASA Basic Regulation and its implementing rules?

According to Art. 2.1 (e) of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, the applicability of the Basic Regulation (BR) in the domain of aerodromes is as follows:

(e) the design, maintenance and operation of aerodromes, including the safety-related equipment used at those aerodromes, located in the territory to which the Treaties apply, which: 

(i) are open to public use; 
(ii) serve commercial air transport; and 
(iii) have a paved instrument runway of 800 metres or more, or exclusively serve helicopters using instrument approach or departure procedures; 

According to Art. 2.7 of the BR, a Member State can decide to exempt the design, maintenance and operation of an aerodrome, and its safety-related equipment, where that aerodrome handles no more than 10,000 commercial air transport passengers per year and no more than 850 movements related to cargo operations per year. However, the Member State concerned must ensure that such exemption does not endanger compliance with the essential requirements for aerodromes that are detailed in the Annex VII of the BR. 

Art. 2.7 details this exemption possibility even further and states that:

  • When such exemption decision is taken for a specific aerodrome, the design, maintenance and operation of the aerodrome concerned and the safety-related equipment and ground handling services and AMS (apron management services) at that aerodrome shall no longer be regulated by this Regulation and by the delegated and implementing acts adopted on the basis thereof;
  • When such an exemption decision was granted without meeting the traffic conditions, the Commission will address an Implementing act to the the Member State concerned to modify or revoke its exemption decision; and notify the Commission and the Agency thereof;
  • The Member States need to also to notify to the Commission and the Agency all “old” such low traffic exemptions granted under Art. 4 (3b) of the revoked Regulation 216/2008 and examine their traffic figures annually. Where this examination demonstrates that, over three consecutive years, one of those aerodromes handles more than 10 000 commercial air transport passengers per year or more than 850 movements related to cargo operations per year, the Member State concerned shall revoke the exemption of that aerodrome. 
  • All such revocations need to be notified to the Commission and the Agency, and the Agency shall include all decisions by the Commission and the Member States in the repository, described under Art. 74 of the Basic Regulation. 

A list of currently exempted aerodromes is found on EASA's website: List of aerodromes falling in the scope of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 

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ADR.2 Is an extension of the applicability of the EASA rules towards smaller aerodromes planned?

As stated in Recital (7) of Regulation (EU) No 2018/1139, a “deepening of the scope” is not planned:

“It would not be appropriate to subject all aerodromes to common rules. Aerodromes which are not open to public use or aerodromes which do not serve commercial air transport or aerodromes without paved instrument runways of more than 800 metres and which do not exclusively serve helicopters using instrument approach or departure procedures should remain under the regulatory control of the Member States, without any obligation under this Regulation on other Member States to recognise such national arrangements.”

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ADR.3 What is the “Certification Basis” of an aerodrome?

The term “Certification Basis” (CB) is a key term in the area of oversight of aerodromes. According to Art. 34.1 (a) of the Basic Regulation (EU) No 2018/1139 a certificate is required for aerodromes in scope of the BR. The process of obtaining such an aerodrome certificate involves the establishment of the aerodrome’s CB to describe the infrastructure and equipment in terms of the regulatory requirements which they are meant to comply with. The concept of the CB gives also the necessary flexibility to take account of the non-uniform elements of the infrastructure at Europe’s airports. The CB concept does so by allowing local solutions to local issues of deviations from the European aerodrome certification specifications (CS). This CB document is proposed by the applicant (usually the aerodrome operator) and is finally decided on by the Competent Authority, the State entity designated to certify and oversee aerodromes. 

The CB concept is enshrined in the Basic Regulation under Art. 34.5, where it is stipulated that the certification basis for an aerodrome shall consist of the following:

  • a) the applicable certification specifications related to the type of aerodromes; 
     
  • b) those provisions of the applicable certification specifications for which an equivalent level of safety has been accepted; 
     
  • c) the special detailed technical specifications necessary when the design features of a particular aerodrome or the experience in operation render any of the certification specifications referred to in point (a) of this paragraph inadequate or inappropriate to ensure conformity with the essential requirements referred to in Article 33. 

The CB can be a list of all the applicable Certification Specifications, which are relevant to the aerodrome infrastructure elements in question, ideally with an indication for each infrastructure element how each relevant and applicable CS is satisfied. For CS that are not met, an equivalent level of safety (ELOS) or special condition (SC) can be proposed. The CB would normally reference the documentation showing the compliance, the ELOS or the SC, as the case may be.

When the applicant has demonstrated that the aerodrome complies with the agreed CB as per ADR.OR.B.025 (in Annex II of Regulation (EU) No 139/ 2014), one condition for the issuance of the certificate would be met. The final aerodrome certificate shall be considered to include the aerodrome’s CB, and moreover any Deviation Acceptance and Action Documents (DAAD) based on Art.7 “Deviations from certification specifications” of Regulation (EU) No 139/2014, which may have been issued. (See also ADR.AR.C.035 (d) in Annex II of 139/2014).

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ADR.4 When establishing the certification basis of aerodrome, to what extent will the Competent Authority be allowed to take into account the differing environments and location of aerodromes?

There are altogether three important “flexibility tools” in the process of the certification of aerodrome infrastructure and design. Firstly, the establishment of an individual aerodrome Certification Basis (CB) includes the possible element of special conditions (SC), as described under ADR.AR.C.025 in annex II of Regulation (EC) No 139/2014. It gives the flexibility to the authority to allow deviations from the Agency’s Certification Specifications when the aerodrome is subject to topographical, physical or other limitations.

Secondly, the concept of the equivalent level of safety (ELOS), as described ADR.AR.C.020 (b) in Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 139/2014, may also allow for technological solutions or alternatives to be introduced into the CB instead of complying with the applicable certification specification(s). This is on condition that the authority allows for such an equivalent level of safety to be demonstrated (see also the Agency’s Guidance Material for ADR.AR.C.020).

Furthermore, the concept introduced by Art. 7 “Deviations from certification specifications” of Regulation (EC) No 139/2014 allow competent authorities to accept “legacy” deviations from the certification specifications until the end of 2024 for newly certified. Such “legacy” deviations have to pre-date the coming into force of the said Regulation (i.e. have existed before 6 March 2014) to continue as long as they cannot be captured with the aforementioned concepts, are safety assessed, mitigated and undergo regular reviews to establish their continued legitimacy. Such acceptances may be formalised in what is called a “Deviation Acceptance and Action Document” (DAAD).

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ADR.5 What is the Deviation Acceptance and Action Document (DAAD) described in Art. 7 of Regulation 139/2014?

The old and the new Basic Regulation (BR) tasked the Agency to provide solutions to measures at existing aerodromes, which Member States had already authorized on the basis of national law and which stem from notified deviations from Annex 14 filed by the Member States to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). One of the tools that the Agency developed in order to meet this request is found in Art. 7 “Deviations from certification specifications” of the aerodrome implementing rules (Regulation (EU) No 139/2014). It says the following:

Article 7   Deviations from certification specifications

1) The Competent Authority may, until 31 December 2024, accept applications for a certificate including deviations from the certification specifications issued by the Agency, if the following conditions are met:

a. the deviations do not qualify as an equivalent level of safety case under ADR.AR.C.020, nor qualify as a case of special condition under ADR.AR.C.025 of Annex II to this Regulation;

b. the deviations existed prior to the entry into force of this Regulation;

c. the essential requirements of Annex Va to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 are respected by the deviations, supplemented by mitigating measures and corrective actions as appropriate;

d. a supporting safety assessment for each deviation has been completed.

2) The Competent Authority shall compile the evidence supporting the fulfilment of the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 in a Deviation Acceptance and Action Document (DAAD). The DAAD shall be attached to the certificate. The Competent Authority shall specify the period of validity of the DAAD.

3) The aerodrome operator and the Competent Authority shall verify that the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 continue to be fulfilled.

This means that during the initial certification process all existing deviations at an aerodrome must undergo review. In a next step, all deviations which cannot be handled with the other flexibility tools provided (i.e. the Equivalent Level of Safety and Special Condition), and which pre-date 2014, can be accepted by the Competent Authority in a “Deviation Acceptance and Action Document” (DAAD), which would be attached to the certificate, but which does not form part of it.

Such a DAAD will have to describe the deviation, contain the outcomes of a safety assessment concerning the deviation and describe how the essential requirements of Annex VII of Regulation 2018/ 1139 are nevertheless respected by the deviation, when supplemented by mitigating measures and corrective actions as appropriate. It could also be that the Competent Authority includes an action plan for the removal of the deviation at some point in the future. Despite the issuance of a DAAD the deviation(s) should be regularly reviewed. 

When a DAAD is issued, there is no pre-defined expiry date. While a “validity period” must be stated, it must not necessarily be a temporal period. It can also be a traffic volume threshold or in relation to a change in the traffic mix (aircraft type) or a condition whereby the rectification (the “fixing”) of a deviation is related to the next time when a piece of infrastructure is changed, renewed, re-furbished or maintained. It is up to the authority to decide. However, after 2024 this possibility to issue a DAAD for newly certified aerodromes will no longer possible for the CAAs as this is a transitional measure only. 

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ADR.6 Is it planned to have two different certificates, one for the aerodrome operator and one for the aerodrome infrastructure?

Based on the Basic Regulation and as detailed in ADR.AR.C.035 “Issuance of Certificates” under paragraph (b) in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 139/2014 both options are possible.

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ADR.7 What are the so called “standardisation inspections” by EASA of the competent authorities of the Member States?

As of 2018 (end of the conversion period), standardisation teams composed out of EASA officers and personnel of competent authorities qualified by EASA, started to conduct aerodrome standardisation inspections. Those standardisation inspections are based on Article 85 of the Basic Regulation and Regulation (EU) No 628/2013 describing the working methods of these standardisation inspections.

According to a risk-based programme for the Aerodromes domain all the Member States and their competent authorities will systematically receive an aerodromes standardisation inspection in order to assess the application of the aerodrome rules. In the context of such a standardisation visit one or more aerodromes in the Member State are visited to better understand the interactions between the authority and the aerodrome operator; and to understand how the certification process and oversight of the aerodromes by the authority is reflected on the aerodrome operators. However, EASA is not raising findings directly against the sampled aerodrome operator(s) and the addressee of the standardisation visit remains the Member State and its competent authority(ies).

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ADR.8 Safety Management System (SMS) for aerodrome operators: are the EASA rules regarding this area the same as those required by ICAO in Annex 19?

In line with ICAO Annex 19, the European rules for aerodromes require that aerodrome operators put into place and maintain a management system, which contains a system to manage safety (SMS). This reflects the need to integrate the various sub-systems used for the management of the different activities of an aerodrome organization (e.g. management of aeronautical data and related activities).

The relevant provisions on the management system of aerodrome operators may be found in the management requirements contained in Subpart D of Annex III of Regulation (EU) No 139/ 2014 (Part ADR.OR), as well as in the related acceptable means of compliance and guidance material. They reflect the Annex 19 requirements and will be updated in line with updates to Annex 19.

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ADR.9 What are alternative means of compliance (AltMOC)?

For all questions regarding alternative means of compliance please consult the following FAQ pages: link

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ADR.10 Has EASA published design requirements for heliports?

Yes, following the developments under RMT.0638, EASA published in May 2019 the ED Decision 2019/012/R issuing the Certification Specifications (CS) and Guidance Material (GM) for the design of surface-level VFR heliports located at aerodromes that fall under the scope of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139. These requirements are contained in CS-HPT-DSN: Regulations ADR-Aerodromes

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ADR.11 The Basic Regulation – BR (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139) contains provisions for the safety-related aerodrome equipment. Where can I find the rules?

In accordance with Article 35 of the BR, organisations involved in the design, production and maintenance of safety related aerodrome equipment used or intended for the use at aerodromes in the scope may have to either:

(a) declare that the equipment complies with certain specifications; or
(b) hold a certificate for such equipment.

Where the safety-related aerodrome equipment is not covered by either a declaration or a certificate, the aerodrome certificate required under Article 34 will also have to include this equipment.

Once the implementing rules will be adopted, EASA will act as Competent Authority responsible for the certification, oversight and enforcement in accordance with Article 62(2) with respect to the certificates and the declarations.

EASA and its stakeholders need to further assess and decide the optimum approach and concept, followed by the development of proposed rules and procedures. Therefore, the development of these requirements will be performed at a later stage, possibly after 2021. The type of regulatory action will be reflected in the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS), which is consulted with the stakeholders.

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ADR.12 Is it true that EASA will soon be publishing common rules for groundhandling providers and groundhandling services?

The new Basic Regulation ((EU) 2018/1139), under its articles 33 and 37, gives the Agency responsibility for the rulemaking for this area. Due to ground safety being also a significant safety issue showing up in safety data, the area has priority over other new responsibilities. The associated rulemaking task is RMT.0728. It was already kicked off in 2018 and is reflected in the EPAS of 2019. The involvement of the relevant stakeholders is, as always, taken very seriously by the Agency.

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ADR.13 When will the rules for Apron Management Services (AMS) finally come out? Note: ICAO also calls such services Apron Control.

This task and its opinion 02/2014 have indeed experienced significant delays, but will hopefully be adopted on the short term. 

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ADR.14 Is it correct that Europe has extended powers with respect to the protection of aerodrome surroundings and that this area will be regulated by Europe?

The Basic Regulation ((EU) 2018/1139) in its article 38 talks about the Member States’ and aerodrome operators’ obligations with respect to the protection of aerodrome surroundings and the possible European intervention in order to ensure the uniform application of these obligations. 

Article 38 states that Member States must ensure that the aerodrome located in their territory are safeguarded against activities and developments in their surroundings, which may cause unacceptable risks to aircraft using the aerodrome. Examples for such activities would be for example those that attract wildlife, while development would be constructions, which represent obstacles in one of the different obstacle limitation surfaces. 

The article then goes on to say, that aerodrome operators have the task to monitor the aerodrome surroundings for such activities and developments which may cause risks to aviation in the surroundings of their aerodromes. They then need to take the necessary measures to mitigate those risks in as far as this lies in their control or otherwise bring the risk to the attention of the competent authority of the Member State where the aerodrome is located.

The Commission shall develop implementing acts to ensure the uniform application of the article on the basis of the principle laid out in Art. 4 of the Basic Regulation in order to achieve the objectives laid out in Art. 1, among which the establishment and maintenance of a high uniform level of civil aviation safety in the Union is the most prominent. 

However, the development of this task will only start at some point after 2021, due to lack of resources and other priority tasks at this point in time. 

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ADR.15 Is there a transition period by which an aerodrome operator has to comply with new or changed certification specifications (CS) for aerodrome design?

In accordance with ADR.OR.B.50, the aerodrome operator, following an amendment of the certification specifications, must perform a review to identify any certification specifications, which are applicable to the aerodrome. If relevant, the aerodrome operator needs to initiate a change process in accordance with ADR.OR.B.040, propose an update of the certification basis and implement the necessary changes at the aerodrome.

The competent authority, for its part, shall process the application for changes in accordance with the steps prescribed in ADR.AR.C.040. During this process, a timeline to reach compliance with the new CS shall be prescribed by the competent authority, depending on, amongst other factors, the nature and the significance of the required change.

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ADR.16 What is the underlying definition of “passengers” in the context of exemptions mentioned under Art. 2(7) of the EASA New Basic Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139)?

According to Article 2(7) of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, a Member State may decide to issue an exemption from the provisions of this regulation and its implementing rules when the aerodrome in question handles no more than 10,000 commercial air transport passengers per year and no more than 850 movements related to cargo operations per year. 

The exact term “commercial air transport passengers” is not defined in Regulation (EU) 2018/1139.  However, in accordance with Article 3 (24) of the same regulation, commercial air transport is defined as an aircraft operation to transport passengers, cargo or mail for remuneration or other valuable consideration. 

Passengers are practically all persons on board an aircraft, who are not crew members. This corresponds with the practice at Eurostat in its 2015 “Reference Manual on Air Transport Statistics”, where the following definition is given: “Air Passenger” any person, excluding on-duty members of the flight and cabin crews, who makes a journey by air. Infants in arms are included.”

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ADR.17 The EASA Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 talks in its Art. 2 (1e) about aerodromes “open to public use”. Can you provide a definition about the meaning of this?

The term “public use” is included in Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 as one of the elements for defining which aerodromes shall comply with this Regulation and consequently will need to be certified in accordance with the requirements and administrative procedures laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 139/2014. 

In the context of aviation rules, an aerodrome open to public use means that it is generally accessible to use by the public, as opposed to being accessible only to one particular person (for example only the owner) or a restricted group of users. 

The Agency’s interpretation of the term “open to public use”, is that an aerodrome (and heliport) which is open to public use is not necessarily open for all purposes. Its use may be limited to certain operations / types of users and a prior permission/approval may also be required for its use. In any case, a “uniform treatment” of the users of an aerodrome open to public use is always required. This would mean that for example also “PPR” (Prior Permission Required) aerodromes can be open to public use. 

Ultimately, the Member States are responsible to ensure effective implementation of the relevant provisions of the Basic Regulation. 

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