The role and functions of the EDA chaired MAWA Forum are defined in a “European Harmonised Military Airworthiness Basic Framework Document”. This document defines the principles of a common approach to military airworthiness while addressing issues such as the agreed essential requirements for military airworthiness and the terms of reference for cooperation between the National Military Airworthiness Authorities. However, the MAWA Forum does not have the authority to mandate airworthiness regulations on individual nations; participating Member States retain their sovereignty for military airworthiness. Therefore the responsibility and timescale in which these harmonised approaches are implemented into national military airworthiness regulations is a national decision for each participating Member State.
Meeting several times a year, the MAWA Forum has created a number of ‘Advisory Groups’, each dedicated to fields of military airworthiness and each requiring specific subject-matter expertise. Participation in these Advisory Groups by the Member States is on a voluntary basis, and the outputs from each Advisory Group must be approved by the MAWA Forum. This strategy has proven particularly effective and has delivered significant results in the military airworthiness domain. Specifically the progress made in the development of the pan-European military airworthiness standards known as EMARs (European Military Airworthiness Requirements) has been impressive. The MAWA Forum has developed and approved five different EMARs, each covering a unique aspect of military airworthiness: initial aircraft certification (EMAR 21); aircraft maintenance (EMAR 145), maintenance training organisations (EMAR 147), maintenance personnel licencing (EMAR 66) and the management of continuing airworthiness (EMAR M). Each document has been approved with its corresponding Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material (AMC & GM).
Additionally, the MAWA Forum has also published the EMAD R, which contains the arrangements for recognition of other military airworthiness authorities which is an important step to achieve the significant benefits from the harmonisation of military airworthiness regulations.
As a testimony to the relevance of European cooperation in the military airworthiness domain, some participating Member States have already fully implemented the EMARs into their national airworthiness regulations and are using them for the ‘in-service support’ of the A400M military transport aircraft. This is of significance because, by 2020, six European Member States will be using this aircraft within their air force inventories: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Early cooperation in this area is therefore paramount if savings are to be made. Further collaborative opportunities are being explored or initiated for other commonly operated military aircraft types such as the NH90 helicopter, EF2000, MRTT, the C-27J Spartan and C295 tactical airlifters, and a variety of other platforms.
In 2018, the MAWA Forum adopted a new Airworthiness Roadmap aiming at a full implementation of the EMARs into all national military airworthiness regulations of the EDA participating Member States and to harmonise oversight practices. A key objective is the mutual recognition of each other’s airworthiness regulatory and oversight system, which in return could unlock potential new aviation-based Pooling & Sharing opportunities like spare parts as well as maintenance and oversight resources among Member States.
In June 2013, EDA and EASA signed an agreement to enhance cooperation between the two Agencies. This arrangement specifically covers the harmonisation of military aviation requirements, with a particular focus on airworthiness. This increased cooperation is particularly important because of future challenges related to the emergence of ‘dual-use’ platforms like remotely piloted air systems (RPAS).
The relevance of this initiative was confirmed by the Ministerial Steering Board of EDA in November 2013: a political declaration was adopted which tasked the Agency, in close coordination with Member States and other relevant actors, to determine the European framework conditions necessary to support the certification of military RPAS. EDA was also tasked with engaging with the European Commission to develop harmonised certification standards based, to the maximum extent possible, on those used for civilian certification.
Another key collaborative partner is NATO: the MAWA Forum liaises closely with the NATO Airworthiness Advisory Group (NATO AWAG) to ensure that work undertaken by the MAWA Forum does not duplicate activities of the NATO AWAG. Much activity has also been undertaken to ensure that outputs from the MAWA Forum can be used by the NATO AWAG, thus benefiting both organisations.
Industry is also a key participant in the EDA’s activities in military airworthiness. From the outset, the MAWA Forum has ensured that the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) Airworthiness Committee is fully involved in the development of the EMARs. They are, for example, important members of each of the MAWA Advisory Groups and are given access to relevant draft documents where the ASD’s comments and feedback is very valuable. In return, industry is able to share best practices and lessons-learned from collaborative multinational programmes such as the Tiger, NH90, Eurofighter and A400M.