U.K. Devises Plan to Keep Jets Flying in No-Deal Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority is stepping up efforts to ensure that airlines and aerospace companies can carry on functioning in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The regulator has briefed government officials on its plans to recruit staff with the expertise to take over the certification of parts and planes should the split cause Britain to leave the European Aviation Safety Agency, which is currently responsible for such approvals.

Up to 20 airworthiness engineers are being sought and steps are being taken to estimate the potential workload, CAA policy director Tim Johnson told the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy panel Tuesday. The aim is to establish U.K. capability before March’s split from the European Union.

Airlines and manufacturers such as Airbus SE, which makes wings in the U.K., are concerned that a hard Brexit would leave jetliners and components without the required approvals. Johnson said there have been no direct discussions with EASA on no-deal contingency planning, and that the continuation of the status quo remains preferable for both the CAA and the government.

Chequers Deal

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to show that she’s ready to walk away from Brexit talks and opt for a no-deal split if EU negotiators reject the so-called Chequers Plan thrashed out at her country retreat in July. That’s led to the publication of a tranche of documents advising businesses on how to prepare for the possibility of talks collapsing, with more to come.

Attention is also focused on advancing bilateral aviation safety agreements with the U.S., Canada and Brazil, the three main civil aircraft manufacturing nations outside of Europe, Johnson told the panel.

The so-called BASAs, which enable mutual recognition of certification, are currently structured with EASA. An older deal exists between Britain and the U.S. but is less comprehensive, excluding the repair and maintenance of American-registered aircraft in the U.K.

The aviation sector is anxious new accords be put in place from the point Britain quits the EU to avoid any question of flights being unable to operate, he said. Other concerns center on the limited capabilities available for dealing with Brexit requirements, with companies pushing for a collective plan on resourcing the work.

London-based jet-engines giant Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc in July moved the approvals process for its products to a business-jet facility in Dahlewitz, Germany. The shift won’t affect jobs but will allow Rolls to continue to get endorsement for its engines from EASA.

Philippe Petitcolin, chief executive officer of Safran SA, General Electric Co.’s partner in the CFM International engines venture, said Thursday that the French company is working to furnish its U.K. sites with “all the authorizations they’ll need to function after Brexit -- if they’re needed.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.