Foreign Aircraft Safety Assessment Program
(Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft - SAFA)
The need to ensure an adequate level of aviation safety in the context of the significant increase in air transport in recent decades, as well as the need to protect European citizens living in the vicinity of airports or traveling on board aircraft from third countries, has led the European Community to identify and establish new tools to ensure the effective implementation of international civil aviation safety standards.
Therefore, in 1996, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) established the SAFA program for assessing the safety of foreign aircraft. Under the SAFA program, the civil aviation authorities of the participating States shall conduct platform inspections of foreign aircraft landing in those States. SAFA inspections aim to verify compliance with applicable safety standards issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Since 2006, the SAFA Program has been under the responsibility of the European Commission, supported by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The legal framework of the European Union SAFA program is represented by Directive 2004/36 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the safety of third country aircraft using Community airports (SAFA Directive), as amended by European Commission Directive 2008/49 / EC. The above - mentioned Directive establishes the obligation for Member States to inspect third - country aircraft that are suspected of not complying with international safety standards. In addition to this obligation, Member States may also inspect aircraft in accordance with the SAFA inspection procedure without any suspicion of non-compliance. The SAFA Directive provides for obligations only for EU Member States. However, EASA has signed working arrangements with a number of non-EU states for their participation in the SAFA program.
Which aircraft are subject to SAFA inspections?
The participating State chooses which aircraft to inspect. In addition to the obligation to inspect aircraft suspected of non-compliance with international safety standards, most participating states carry out random inspections. Aircraft operated by third country operators and those operated by EU operators can be inspected.
What elements are checked during SAFA inspections?
SAFA inspections use a checklist of 54 items. As under the SAFA policy, the take-off of an aircraft is only delayed for safety reasons, in the event that the time between the arrival and departure of the aircraft is not sufficient, the inspection may not cover all items on the checklist. The elements verified during a SAFA inspection can be:
- pilots' licenses;
- documents and manuals that should be on board, compliance with procedures by the crew;
- cockpit and passenger cabin safety equipment;
- cargo carried in the hold of the aircraft;
- and the technical condition of the aircraft.
SAFA inspections are carried out by participating States following common procedures, and their results are then entered into EASA 's SAFA centralized database.
It should be noted that SAFA inspections are limited to on-site assessments and cannot replace the specific surveillance system exercised by the civil aviation authority of the State of the inspected aircraft. Therefore, SAFA inspections do not have the role of guaranteeing the airworthiness of the inspected aircraft.
Finding non-conformities and subsequent actions
Non-conformities that can be found in a SAFA inspection are classified according to the deviation from the applicable requirements and their influence on safety.
Minor non-conformities (category 1) are reported to the pilot-in-command. If an inspection identifies one or more significant deviations from the safety standards (category 2), they shall also be reported to the air operator and its aeronautical supervisory authority. If non-compliances have a major impact on safety (category 3), it is necessary to correct the non-compliance before take-off or, where appropriate, to impose restrictions on the operation of the aircraft.
The process of following the closure of non-conformities
The factors involved in the SAFA inspection process are: State of inspection, operator, State of operator and State of registration of the aircraft (if different from State of operator). These organizations have a key role to play in the follow-up to a SAFA inspection, as follows:
- the SAFA inspector informs the pilot-in-command and hands him the form representing the proof of the inspection;
- the SAFA inspector requests the pilot-in-command to sign a copy of the form proving the inspection;
- in case of non-compliances of category 2 and 3, a written communication shall be sent to the operator and his aeronautical supervisory authority;
- the operator is required to respond to the written communication with a plan of measures to correct the deficiencies;
- the aeronautical supervisory authority of the operator (or aircraft) may be required to confirm its agreement to the corrective action taken;
- non-conformities are considered closed when the deficiencies have been satisfactorily corrected;
- SAFA inspections to verify the remediation of deficiencies may be subsequently carried out by any State participating in the SAFA program.
SAFA Database Analysis
All data in SAFA reports are stored in the SAFA Database created and managed by EASA. The SAFA database also contains additional information, such as the list of actions taken as a result of inspections in which non-compliances were found. The information held in the SAFA Database is reviewed and analyzed by EASA on a regular basis, with the European Commission and Member States being informed of the results of the analysis and of any potential risks to the aviation safety identified.
General information about the SAFA program can be accessed on the EASA website:
The activity carried out by R.A. AACR in the SAFA field
Implementation of the SAFA program
The Romanian Civil Aviation Authority (R.A. AACR) is the organization responsible for the implementation in Romania of the SAFA program of the European Union.
The provisions of Directive 2004/36 / EC (SAFA Directive), as subsequently amended, are implemented at national level by the RACR-SAFA regulation, and the national procedures, PIAC-SAFA, are developed taking into account EASA guidance materials.
Currently, taking into account the provisions of Regulation (EC) no. Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency and repealing Council Directive 91/670 / EEC, Regulation (EC) No. 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36 / EC and following the entry into force of Commission Regulation (EU) No. 965/2012, which establishes the technical requirements and procedures corresponding to air operations, the entire national legislative set in the field of SAFA is being amended, so as to ensure the implementation, in time, of the new provisions.
In order to fulfill the attributions specific to the implementation of the SAFA program, within R.A. AACR established the SAFA Department in the Safety Directorate - Safety Assessment and Analysis Service and appointed a national SAFA coordinator.
SAFA inspections are performed by specialized personnel, consisting of 8 aeronautical inspectors qualified as SAFA inspectors, appointed by decision of the Director General of R.A. AACR.
The specific activity carried out by SAFA inspectors is materialized in the preparation and performance of SAFA inspections, the follow-up of the resolution by the inspected air operators of the non-conformities found, the communication with the national supervisory authorities and the transmission of the resulting data to EASA.
In 2013, SAFA inspectors of R.A. AACR performed a number of 164 SAFA inspections, totaling, according to EASA criteria, 192 points.
In addition to the activity of managing SAFA inspections, the tasks of the SAFA department also include the evaluation, for acceptance, of organizations that offer initial and recurrent theoretical and practical training courses for SAFA inspectors, in accordance with the procedures established by EASA. This activity materialized through the acceptance by R.A. AACR of two training organizations, acceptances that have been mutually recognized by other EU countries.
In order to improve the specific activity, the SAFA Department organized the participation of R.A. AACR to the exchange program between SAFA inspectors from EU countries, coordinated by EASA. Thus, so far there have been exchanges of experience between AACR SAFA inspectors and those in Germany, the Netherlands and Bulgaria, with beneficial results for streamlining and improving the quality of SAFA inspections.
The activity carried out by the SAFA Department as part of the EU SAFA program was evaluated, with good results, by 2 EASA standardization visits, carried out in 2010 and 2012. During the last standardization visit only 2 minor non-conformities were reported, which was closed in the first half of 2013, through the implementation of a corrective action plan approved by EASA.
As a corollary of the activities carried out within the EU-SAFA Program, at the initiative of the Security Directorate of R.A. AACR, the 21st meeting of the European SAFA Program Steering Group (ESSG-21), attended by representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission, EASA and EUROCONTROL will take place in Bucharest in March 2014.
Activities related to SAFA inspections that concerned the aircraft of Romanian air operators
Another component of the activity carried out by the SAFA Department is the collaboration with the Supervision Department of R.A. AACR in order to improve the country score calculated by EASA as a result of the results of SAFA inspections performed by foreign aviation authorities on aircraft of Romanian air operators.
In this sense, internal procedures for the exchange of information were established between the SAFA Department and the Supervision Department, in case of reporting non-conformities within the SAFA inspections that had as object the aircraft of the Romanian air operators.
Also, the establishment, by Decision of the Director General of the R.A. AACR, of the SAFA working group, composed of specialists from R.A. AACR and authorized representatives, delegates of Romanian air operators, proved to be a very useful tool in improving the results obtained as a result of SAFA inspections.
Other collateral measures undertaken so far by the SAFA Department were materialized by organizing meetings with the representatives of the Romanian air operators in case of reporting non-conformities during the SAFA inspections to which they were subjected, to discuss the corrective action plan in order to close them. preventing the signaling, in the future, of other non-conformities.
As a first result of the activities carried out, based on preliminary assessments, the rate of non - conformities, at national level, decreased by over 20%.