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Below are some of the frequently asked questions and key statistics relating to the Safety Regulation Division

Who sets the standards by which the IAA regulates?

The IAA regulates to the international standards in accordance with the following:

ICAO Annexes:

  • Personnel Licensing - Annex 1
  • Rules of the Air - Annex 2
  • Aeronautical Charts - Annex 4
  • Operations - Annex 6
  • Registration  - Annex 7
  • Airworthiness - Annex 8
  • ATM Regulation - Annexes 10 and 11
  • Aerodromes - Annex 14
  • Aeronautical Information Services - Annex 15
  • Aircraft Noise - Annex 16
  • Dangerous Goods - Annex 18

EASA Regulation: The IAA has been designated as the Competent Authority under the EASA regulation.

The IAA has been designated as the National Supervisory Authority under the European Union's Single European Sky Regulations.

The Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993 provides the IAA with its powers, functions and enforcement capability.

Who oversees the IAA?

External oversight of the IAA is carried out by:

  • ICAO, who conduct safety oversight audits of all States' safety regulation authorities worldwide
  • EASA, who routinely audit the following areas:

      - Maintenance Organisation Approval System

      - Airline Certification Systems

      - Synthetic Training Devices Approval System

      - Personnel Licensing (Pilot/Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) Functions

Eurocontrol, who commenced audits of Member States in 2002 for implementation of ANS Regulation functions and ESARRs.

The Irish Department of Transport under Section 32 of the Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993, the Minister of Transport commissions an audit of the IAA Safety Regulation Division. This is unique as no other European government carries out an independent audit of its regulatory authority.

Ireland also has a bilateral aviation safety agreement with the USA. The IAA conducts oversight of FAR 145 aircraft maintenance organisations in the State under that agreement on behalf of the FAA.

Whom does the IAA audit?

The IAA audits:

  • Airlines
  • Aircraft maintenance organisations
  • Engineer training organisations
  • Flight training schools
  • Aerodromes
  • Air traffic control services providers
  • General aviation

IAA Audit Checks of Airlines

Audits are carried out on the following areas:

  • Initial grant of Air Operators Certificate (AOC)
  • Documents Inspection
  • Returned Flight Documentation
  • Technical Records
  • Crew Records - flight time & training
  • Quality & Safety Management Systems Inspection
  • Facilities and Organisation Inspection
  • Flight Inspection (Flight Deck & Cabin)
  • Ramp Inspection
  • Navigation Inspection
  • Operations Manual Inspection
  • Dangerous Goods Procedures
  • Individual aircraft certificates
  • Annual Reviews
  • Safety audits

AOCs are issued to operators who meet the requisite regulatory requirements and standards and which entitle them to conduct commercial operations. In this State, operators must comply with PART-OPS and Irish Aviation Authority (Operations) Order requirements which are verified by the Authority as continuing to meet those standards in operation. All Irish commercial airlines meet the required standard.

IAA Audit Checks of Operator Maintenance Organisation

Operator maintenance organisations are approved by the IAA under EASA regulations to manage the continuing airworthiness of an airline fleet. In this regard, the IAA also:

  • approves continuing airworthiness management organisations for continued airworthiness;
  • conducts annual safety audits against EASA standards;
  • approves maintenance programmes for each aircraft type (which comprise typically a transit / pre-departure check, a daily check, a service check every 40 days, an "A" check every 600 hours / 90 days and a "C" check every 5000 hours / 18 months.) Each maintenance programme is typically revised 3 / 4 times per annum to take account of new and developing airworthiness information;
  • conducts over 350 annual reviews of each aircraft, its records and maintenance;
  • approves minimum equipment lists for each aircraft type operated;
  • investigates reports of defects and incidents;
  • audits all line stations where maintenance is carried out by the operator;
  • continually monitors the technical reliability of an operator's fleet;
  • ensures, by audit, that aircraft configuration and equipment standards are approved (EASA);
  • routinely exercises surveillance of ramp operations at main bases and outstations;
  • routinely exercises surveillance of the effectiveness of the maintenance control system.

IAA Audit Checks of Non-airline Maintenance Organisations

Maintenance organisations are approved under EASA regulations to carry out maintenance on aircraft and aviation products. The IAA:

  • approves maintenance organisations in accordance with EASA standards (approvals are renewed annually subject to above audit)
  • conducts unannounced surveillance
  • investigates issues arising from occurrence reports

Safety of Foreign Aircraft Inspection (SAFA) Programme

This programme is conducted on behalf of the State, which as a member of the European Civil Aviation Conference must ensure that foreign operators using Irish airports are subjected to regular safety checks. The programme is implemented by the IAA and consists of:

  • inspection of foreign operated aircraft in Ireland
  • monitoring results of inspections of Irish aircraft by other States
  • follow up of inspection results with both domestic and foreign airlines.

In addition, Irish registered aircraft are subject to such checks at European airports.

IAA Audit Checks of Engineer Training Organisations There are five EASA engineer training organisations approved in Ireland. They are subject to oversight by the IAA through:

  • biennial audit
  • examination surveillance
  • approval of individual courses

IAA Audit Checks of Flight Training Organisations

There are five flight training organisations and seven type rating training organisations approved by the IAA in Ireland. The IAA, through its Flight Examination Unit;  

  • conducts annual audits regarding flight training standards and record-keeping
  • oversees Irish approved flying schools for compliance with JAA Standards
  • undertakes standardisation of Flight Examiners to European standards (JAA)
  • supervises flight testing for - initial issue of pilot licenses and - recurrent checking of qualified pilot standards
  • oversees over 30 flying clubs that train private pilots

IAA Audit Checks of Aerodromes & Airspace

The Aeronautical Services Department licenses aerodromes and regularly conducts safety audits of them. Its oversight comprises:

  • annual audits of all licensed aerodromes in accordance with international standards
  • oversight of the implementation of aerodrome safety management systems
  • assessment of applications for planning permission in order to protect the airspace surrounding aerodromes
  • authorisation and definition of airspace classification in Irish controlled airspace
  • approval of instrument flight procedures nationwide
  • approval of aviation and aerodrome charts.

IAA Audit Checks of Air Navigation Service Providers

The Aeronautical Services Department conducts audits of air navigation service providers and checks include:

  • competency of organisations and personnel
  • quantitative safety levels
  • safety management execution and responsibility
  • risk assessment and mitigation
  • safety Management System Documentation
  • external services
  • safety occurrences - reporting and tracking

IAA Audit Checks of General Aviation General aviation is subject to a biennial review of each aircraft, its records and status on the maintenance programme.  There are approximately 550 such reviews per annum.  

Who are the largest Irish airlines?

  • Aer Arann               13 Aircraft
  • Aer Lingus              47 Aircraft
  • Air Contractors       28 Aircraft
  • CityJet                    20 Aircraft
  • Ryanair                  300 Aircraft

Human Factors Issues in Legacy and Low Cost Carriers

The IAA regulates Legacy and Low Cost Carriers (LCC) to the same safety and operating standards which conform to all EU and EASA regulations and requirements.

All pilots in Irish airlines are subject to ongoing surveillance and audit. Route and competency checks are conducted in the cockpit during line operations. Pilots are subject to an approved recurrent training programme and to proficiency checks which are conducted every six months in simulators. All surveillance, audits, training and checking meet the national and international regulatory requirements and are in line with industry best practice.

All operators have a Flight Time Limitation (FTL) scheme which is approved by the IAA and is in accordance with current regulations (AIC / OAM). The IAA audits FTL schemes in all Irish airlines every six months as part of its surveillance programme. The general rule of 900 hours flying time per annum and 100 hours flying time in 28 consecutive days applies to all Irish airlines. Furthermore, pilots are limited to 1800 hours duty time per annum.

Transport Aircraft Flying Hours

12,564,633 hours have been flown by Irish registered commercial transport aircraft since 1990 to the end of 2008 and there have been no hull losses or fatal accidents in that period.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics for US commercial transport operation [FAR 121 (airlines) & 135 (air taxi)] by comparison show a statistic of 9.8 fatal accidents per million flying hours.