Traditionally, State safety functions in civil aviation have been predominantly based on ensuring compliance with prescriptive rules and regulations based on past experiences and accident investigation. This has served aviation well and allowed it to achieve very good safety levels. However, as aviation is becoming more complex, this traditional approach is no longer sufficient and needs to be supplemented with a more proactive method based on safety performance monitoring and realistic improvement target setting. Work on the implementation of such a system has started both at the international level and in the European Union (EU).
This article considers the challenges associated with this process and presents recommendations on how the regulatory framework for this new approach could be best shaped, especially in the complex institutional and legal context of the EU. It argues that a performance-based approach should enable Europe to continue driving its overall air safety performance in the longer term and to ensure a truly uniform level of air safety for all European passengers. It would also be a unique development in the world, combining the new proactive 'philosophy' to air safety management with its consistent application in a regional context.Air and Space Law