EDA’s Military Airworthiness Conference 2017 (MAC 2017), this year co-hosted with the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), took place on 11th - 12th October in Athens, Greece. This was the 9th annual Conference arranged under the auspices of the Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA) Forum and brought together around 150 delegates from industry and governmental organisations of 33 EU and non-EU nations, representing a broad spectrum of expertise in civil and military aviation. The theme of this year’s Conference was ‘Enabling deeper defence cooperation by Implementation of EMAR's, Recognition and further Evolution’.
The Conference was opened by Roland van Reybroeck, EDA Director Cooperation Planning & Support, followed by a keynote speech from Lieutenant General Christoforos Smyrlis, Inspector General of the Hellenic Air Force. Over the 1½ days of the Conference, delegates received 17 presentations covering a wide-variety of topics and challenges currently being faced by the military airworthiness community, not only within Europe but also worldwide.
The presentations were grouped in the Conference’ main subjects of EMAR-Implementation, Recognition and Additional Reflections & RPAS, interspersed with relevant Q&A sessions and discussion periods. This allowed delegates to gain an understanding on challenges being faced and approaches taken by nations and multinational organisations in relation to those subjects.
Concepts, challenges and benefits of EMAR implementation for authorities and dedicated projects, in view of achieving a fully controlled airworthiness environment were discussed, with initial thoughts being expressed on how implementation could be quantified. The central role of recognition for developing strong networks of trust among military airworthiness and aviation safety authorities were underlined. Dialogue and standardised process based quality systems at authorities level were considered key enablers to further accelerate the network building process. It was emphasized that Nations need to consider the ‘duty of care’ and use EDA and the MAWA initiative to extend their harmonization efforts to other Aviation domains, ensuring compatibility and interoperability with civil aviation authorities as well as NATO.
European Industry’s view on common standards and processes being coordinated through a central organisation as prerequisite for successful implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS) in the military airworthiness domain was presented by ASD, with EASA providing an introduction to the ‘performance-based’ regulatory and oversight system, highlighting the importance of data availability and safety system maturity, with adequate and sufficient resources allocated for organisations and their stakeholders as a prerequisite for its implementation.
Detailed insight was given into an authorisation process for internal and underslung loads, efficiently utilizing scarce expertise to ensure helicopter safety in full compliance with NATO standards, considered paramount to guarantee interoperability.
The conference was rounded by focusing on RPAS and their Air Traffic Integration, where it was suggested that military authorities should develop a common position towards civilian authorities, emphasising that RPAS categorisations and certification criteria have to have due regard to military types of operations. Although certification specifications and relevant aviation standards are available and accepted, a significant amount of time and effort must be invested to tailor and agree appropriate certification requirements for RPAS currently being developed, ranging from small to complex products.
The conference also provided key opportunities for networking, ensuring that delegates were able to maximise their time with each other and to follow-up individual presentations with more detailed discussions of specific national issues.
We would like to thank all presenters from our participating Member States, as well as Switzerland, Australia, the Republic of South Korea, ASD, EASA, NATO and OCCAR for sharing their views and expertise and for providing valuable insights.
Copies of the presentations can be accessed by clicking on the links above.