Backlash as UK confirms it will leave EU aviation safety regulator

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Britain’s aerospace industry has criticised the government after the transport secretary confirmed the UK will leave the European aviation safety regulator by the end of the year.

Grant Shapps said British membership of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will come to an end at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

The minister said powers would revert to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

“We will leave EASA. A lot of the expertise they have is UK expertise, in fact. A lot of the key leading lights were Brits,” he told Aviation Week during a visit to Washington.

“So, the powers will revert to the CAA, who are probably one of the world’s leading regulators and the expertise will need to come home to do that, but we’ll do it in a gradual way.”

However, industry body ADS, which represents the UK’s aerospace businesses, said being part of EASA was the “best option” in order to maintain competitiveness and that it was “disappointed” in the government’s approach.

“We have been clear that continued participation in EASA is the best option to maintain the competitiveness of our £36bn aerospace industry and our access to global export markets,” said ADS chief executive Paul Everitt.

“UK influence in EASA contributes to raising standards in global aviation, supports collaboration with our international partners, and helps make our industry attractive to the investment it needs to be home to the development of a new generation of advanced aircraft technology.

“Government had promised it would consider harmonisation where it is in the UK interest and will be led by the evidence on the future of aviation safety regulation.

“We are disappointed that it has not taken a more ambitious approach. It is essential that it works with us to deliver a regime that does not put jobs at risk in an industry that employs 111,000 people in highly skilled roles across the UK.”

However, a Department for Transport (DfT) spokeswoman said EASA membership was “not compatible” with the UK having “genuine economic and political independence”.

She added: “We will maintain world-leading safety standards for industry, with the Civil Aviation Authority taking over these responsibilities, and will continue to work with colleagues in the EU to establish a new regulatory relationship.”