Third Country Operators - General

Are approvals obtained in the field of aviation security (e.g., ACC3) considered in the TCO Authorisation process?

No. TCO is a flight safety (not an aviation security) assessment. To this end, TCO addresses security-related issues only to the extent that these are relevant to flight safety and part of an ICAO standard applicable to air operators pursuant to ICAO Annex 6 (e.g., CCTV, reinforced cockpit door, etc.). ACC3 is subject to a separate EU regulation that is unrelated to the TCO Regulation.

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How long should we expect the process to take for the initial TCO authorisation?

Although TCO.300 (b)(1) requires at least 30 days before the intended starting date of operation, it is highly recommended that you submit the application well in advance of the intended operation. This will allow for sufficient lead time as the Agency, under ART.200(b), might need to extend the assessment period in order to conduct further assessment. Where EASA decides to invite operators for a meeting or to perform an on-site audit, the TCO authorisation process can take several months, especially where the technical assessment results in findings that have to be closed before EASA can issue the authorisation.

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How is the economic aspect of the approval (commercial traffic rights - air services agreement) split from the EASA Safety oversight element?

EASA TCO only takes over the safety-related part of foreign operator assessment, whereas operating permits (commercial traffic rights) will continue to be issued by individual Member States. EASA does not (and cannot) issue operating permits and these remain an area of national responsibility. However, operators should be aware that in addition to other requirements, they must hold a valid TCO authorisation before a Member State can issue an operating permit.

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How will EU-OPS provisions on code-sharing interact with Part-TCO?

In order to comply with the code-sharing requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 965/2012, it is not enough to hold only a TCO authorisation. Because they involve EU rules as well as ICAO standards, the code-share provisions will apply in addition to the requirements of Part-TCO. Therefore, a third-country operator who shares codes with an EU carrier will be subject to both sets of requirements and their related AMC [ORO.AOC.115/ARO.OPS.105]. In practice, the third-country operator will be obliged to undergo comprehensive audits for the initial and continuous verification of compliance with the applicable ICAO Standards [AMC1 ORO.AOC.115(a)(1)]. The audits can be performed either by the EU operator itself, or by a third-party provider [AMC2 ORO.AOC.115(b)], which includes the possibility of using industry standards such as IOSA. The audit will focus on the operational, management and control systems of the TCO [AMC1 ORO.AOC.115(a)(1)]. Ensuring that the code-sharing third-country operator continues to comply with the applicable ICAO Standards, will be achieved through a code-share audit programme [AMC1 ORO.AOC.115(b)].

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