Every time a new type of aircraft or aeronautical product is developed (civil or military), its compliance with established minimum safety standards must be demonstrated from the outset, i.e. during the design phase. For standard applications, such as commercially used passenger and transport aircraft or helicopters, tailored sets of technical airworthiness requirements are summarised in ‘airworthiness codes’, also known as certification specifications, and used as the basis for the verification tests to be performed as part of the airworthiness certification process.
With the approval by Defence Ministers in 2008 of the ‘roadmap for the EU-wide forum for Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA)’, representatives and subject matter experts of national military airworthiness authorities were tasked to work on ’common certification/ design codes’ for military aircraft and aeronautical products.
However, as innovation constantly delivers new materials, technologies and design features, predefined airworthiness codes need to be adapted (for each product certification) as they don’t cover all the necessary elements to assess a new product’s airworthiness. In such cases, special requirements must be agreed between the manufacturers and the airworthiness authorities.
In contrast to the civil aviation industry, where new technologies tend to be introduced rather gradually and smoothly, the value of a new military air asset depends first and foremost on the disruptiveness of its technology and its – often unusual — design. As a result, a simple adaptation of traditional airworthiness codes, in many cases, does not suffice and tailor-made military-specific airworthiness certification programmes must be developed instead.
Against this backdrop, a dedicated Task Force was established in 2009 under the direction of the EDA Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA) Forum to develop a harmonised apprach to generic airworthiness certification criteria that could be used to assess and certify the design-airworthiness for all EU military aircraft programmes.