Over the years, the nature and structure of the aviation industry has fundamentally changed. In relatively few cases are commercial aircraft now operated by their owners for a period equal to their useful life of such aircraft. Yet that fact pattern was largely presupposed in the framework applicable to the regulation of international civil aviation. Today, a high percentage of aircraft are leased, and most aircraft are transferred – re-registered in other countries – several times during their useful life. That percentage is reasonably expected to increase in the years to come.

At the same time, countries around the world have developed elaborate national systems addressing aircraft technical requirements. Overlap and duplication among such systems have hindered the efficient transfer of aircraft. These national systems should take into account the practicalities of cross-border transferability of aircraft. With some important exceptions (including through the work of EASA and the recent EU - US bilateral), the systems lack substantive harmonisation, resulting in significant costs and inefficiencies which do not enhance aviation safety.

AWG is committed to working with policy makers with a view towards enhancing efficiency and safety in the transfer and redeployment of aircraft. That includes developing harmonised regulations and procedures enhancing safety, and improving the efficiency of aircraft airworthiness certification, as aircraft are transitioned from one jurisdiction to another.

Economic Impact Assessment: Dissimilar Technical Requirements Impacting Transferability

AWG commissioned an economic impact assessment in the field of regulatory requirements impacting the cross-border transferability of aircraft. That study, which has been summarised in PowerPoint form, was carried out by SGI Aviation. After much effort given the previous lack of available data, common lexicon and accepted methodology in this field, the study has been completed. The study concludes that, over a 20-year period, the costs of dissimilar regulatory requirements impacting the cross-border transfer of aircraft may exceed USD 7 billion. The study includes several recommendations designed to reduce such costs.

Analysis of Impact of Aircraft Age on Safety for Air Transport Jet Airplanes

AWG does not support age-based import restrictions for aircraft, believing that a risk-based approach should be followed. AWG has commissioned a study on that important topic. The study, entitled "Analysis of Impact of Aircraft Age on Safety for Air Transport Jet Airplanes" was prepared by Professor John Hansman, director of MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, our independent technical expert on this subject. The study concludes (at p. 19) that there is no correlation between the fatal accident rates and aircraft age up to 27 years of age for commercial jet aircraft' and 'the evidence does not support age-based import restrictions as an effective measure to increase aviation safety' assuming proper regulation.

For ease of reference, Professor Hansman has prepared a powerpoint summarizing the study.

We believe that this study supports the proposition that, as guidance materials, the ICAO Airworthiness Manuals should expressly support risk-based approaches, such as limits of validity, rather than age-based import restrictions.

Establishment of an International Repository of Import Requirements

One recommendation made by AWG calls for the establishment of an International Repository of national import requirements. A repository would provide timely access to such requirements and create a context of general transparency. Most importantly, it would provide a foundation for the development of international norms and standards based on best practices.

AWG considers that ICAO is uniquely positioned to organise and support such an international repository, and that such would advance ICAO's mission of developing harmonised safety standards in international civil aviation.

Enhanced ICAO Guidance Materials on Transferability Items

One set of recommendation made by AWG call for harmonised standards on a range of items impacting cross-border transferability. These include: (i) the development of processes for export and import of aircraft; (ii) the introduction of a standard export certificate of airworthiness; (iii) a standard format for authorised release certificates; and (iv) the introduction of a global concept of airworthiness.

AWG considers that advancing these items in the context of enhanced ICAO guidance materials is an appropriate first stage in the process of harmonisation of these important items.


AWG notes with approval the finalisation of the EU - US bilateral agreement on aviation safety (Agreement between the United States of America and the European Community on cooperation in the regulation of civil aviation safety).

AWG looks forward to contributing to the implementation of this landmark agreement, including through work in the technical bodies being created under that agreement.

Upcoming and Recent Cross-Border Transferability Events

Below is a list of upcoming and recent events addressing the cross-border transferability with which AWG is connected:

Upcoming Events:

AWG: Cross-Border Transfer of Aircraft, ISTAT Conference, Barcelona, 18 - 20 September 2011

Recent Events:

Presentation, Economic Impact Assessment and Select Recommendations - Dissimilar Technical Requirements Impacting Cross-Border Transfer of Aircraft, EU - US Conference on International Aviation Safety, Vienna, 14 - 16 June 2011