Introduction
Clarification of IASA categories
Change in removal benchmark for inactive countries
Clarification on initiation of assessment
Explanation of risk analysis
New, informal process for engagement
Potential further restrictions on operations involving operators from countries under IASA review
Incorporation of FAA/CAA development of corrective action plan following Category 2
rating
Comment


Introduction

On 26 September 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice of policy statement (the Notice) announcing several key changes to its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme.

The FAA established the IASA programme in 1992 to serve as the means by which the FAA determines whether another country's civil aviation authority's (CAA's) oversight of its airlines that operate (or seek to operate) into the United States or codeshare with a US airline complies with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The FAA publishes a country-specific IASA Category Rating list on its website. This publication serves as notice to the US travelling public of a country's compliance (Category 1) or non-compliance (Category 2) with ICAO standards.

The changes detailed in the FAA Notice took effect on 28 September 2022, when the Notice was published in the Federal Register, and are summarised below.

Clarification of IASA categories

The FAA revised the category definitions to align them with the types of operations that require an IASA country ranking (and, therefore, a need for FAA oversight). The updated definitions are as follows:

  • Category 1, does comply with ICAO standards – the FAA has found that the country meets ICAO standards for safety oversight of civil aviation. Pursuant to Category 1, a country's operators may engage in direct service to the United States or code-sharing partnerships involving the display of US airline codes; and
  • Category 2, does not comply with ICAO standards – the FAA has found that the country does not meet ICAO standards for safety oversight.

Change in removal benchmark for inactive countries

The FAA's new policy reduces the removal benchmark for inactive countries (ie, countries for which no operators fly into the United States or display a US airline code) from four to two years. As explained in the Notice, the FAA believes this change will help avoid giving the public a "false sense of safety" about Category 1 countries and will avoid "unfairly penalizing" (Category 2 countries when there has been no activity since the (Category 2 rating was issued.

Clarification on initiation of assessment

The Notice clarifies that, with respect to a country that presently has no ranking under the IASA programme, the FAA will not perform an initial assessment until an operator of that country files an application with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for economic authority – for example, a foreign air carrier permit or exemption. The Notice states this requirement is intended to ensure that both the operator's CAA and the operator itself have taken the necessary steps to manage and oversee operations in accordance with applicable ICAO safety standards.

Explanation of risk analysis

The Notice reiterates that the FAA uses a risk analysis process, performed at least annually or whenever new safety information is obtained, on each country on the IASA category rating list. The risk analysis process consists of the following five major categories:

  • DOT economic authority, such as new or existing authority or US service under part 129;
  • governance and safety culture;
  • time passed since the last IASA, and other factors indicating that a Category 1 rating may no longer be valid;
  • compliance with ICAO requirements; and
  • FAA safety concerns about the oversight provided by the relevant CAA.

New, informal process for engagement

In the case of Category 1 countries identified as "priorities" pursuant to the risk analysis described above, the FAA will "exercise discretion" to

  • provide foreign CAAs with "information notification" of its safety concerns; and
  • request discussions with the relevant CAA. Such discretion is intended to make CAAs aware of potential deficiencies and "enable more efficient resolution". However, when justified, the FAA will retain its ability to initiate immediate IASA category changes (eg, downgrading a country from Category 1 to Category 2 status) or an IASA reassessment.

Potential further restrictions on operations involving operators from countries under IASA review

Upon the FAA's notification of its risk analysis-based concerns to a country's CAA, the FAA will freeze in place the direct services of the country's operators to the United States and their display of US airline codes – that is, limit such operations to their current levels. In addition, the FAA will cease reciprocal acceptance of any approals or certifications issued by the country's CAA under existing bilateral aviation safety agreements with the United States. The notice states the FAA's belief that such actions will enhance transparency between initial notification and completion of the IASA reassessment.

Incorporation of FAA/CAA development of corrective action plan following Category 2 rating

The FAA will provide the CAA of a country downgraded to Category 2 with a corrective action plan to address its safety oversight deficiencies and conduct a virtual meeting with the CAA to establish timelines for completion.

Comment

The Notice underscores the FAA's belief that the changes and clarifications will enhance its engagement with CAAs, promote greater transparency of the IASA process and better mitigate FAA-identified international civil aviation safety risks.

For further information on this topic please contact Michael Deutsch or Jonathon Foglia at Cozen O'Connor by telephone (+1 202 912 4800) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Cozen O'Connor website can be accessed at www.cozen.com.