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What are the boundaries of responsibility by the National Aviation Authorities (Member States of EASA, e.g. France = DGAC) versus the responsibilities of EASA concerning aircraft operations? I know EASA has some responsibility for aircraft operations as noted in EC No 1592-2002, EC 216-2008 and EC 2018-1139. However the National Aviation Authorities (DGAC, ENCA, FOCA, etc.) surely still maintain some operational power or they would cease to exist?

Does anybody have a reference that can clarify whom is responsible for what areas of the "Air Operation" regulations (EASA calls Part 121 "Air Operation") for National Aviation Authorities versus EASA?

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Let's continue with you example of France DGAC.

National body: DGAC

DGAC is in charge of French ATC, in airports and enroute, manages ATC education and training (ENAC, École Nationale de l’Aviation Civile), is the spokesperson for operators, crews and industrials.

DGAC in general is the operational safety people you can see at the airport, EASA is not present. They are reporting to French authorities (e.g. Ministère de la transition écologique) who are still responsible for overseeing aviation activities in France.

Regarding safety, the domain of EASA:

DGAC is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of French air transport. On one hand it is a regulatory authority, but it also supervises security and safety [...]

DSAC, The Civil Aviation Safety Directorate is the department of DGAC in charge of safety. Its task is to ensure safety for everyone involved in air transport. It is in charge of monitoring the application of the regulations, which are primarily developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

(Source)

STAC (Services Technique de l'Aviation Civile) is a branch of DGAC in charge of planning navaids and airports and designing airports systems.

EU body: EASA

The actual domain of EASA, as name implies, is safety. While EASA doesn't replace local authorities, it is the main regulatory body in EU for civil aviation.

DGAC (actually DSAC) on the other hand is participating to safety regulation preparation as do other national agencies in EU. Remember EASA was only 400 people a few years ago, maybe twice today.

EASA has issued a number of "regulations". Regulations don't have to be implemented locally contrary to "directives", they are binding per se. An analysis of the regulations structure is available here:

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Some activities have logically shifted from DGAC to EASA, in particular the ICAO role to issue airworthiness directives for commercial aviation:

From 15th February 2006, DGAC France stops issuing Consignes de Navigabilité (= Airworthiness Directives) on behalf of EASA

However ULMs or gliders topics (among other) are still under DGAC responsibility.

EASA vs FAA

Contrary to FAA which encompasses nearly every aspect of civil aviation in the US, EASA has a limited, though critical and expanding, role around security, safety and airworthiness.

Contrary to FAA, EASA is not an ANSP. Eurocontrol itself has not to be compared (yet) with FAA ANSP role, they actually cover only a very small part of the EU sky (Maastricht UAC), even if the long term idea is to standardize ANSP tools in EU and allow a true single sky ATM to cope with the increasing traffic. DGAC (DSNA branch) has still full authority for this aspect in France, and probably for some time since ATC means also coordinating with national air force.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that while eurocontrol itself only covers Maastricht UAC, it is the Network Manager, so they approve flight plans everywhere. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Nov 18 '18 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec, True, but it is interesting to know their geographical scope is a bit different from EASA. and contrary to EASA, Eurocontrol is not an EU administration but an international organization working for 41 states (vs. 28 EU members). For the 41 states, and several additional partners, they run tools for flight planning, flow management and charge recovery, but for example they have no authority to decide whether a controlled area is safe or not, they receive this information from national aviation agencies or ANSPs. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 18 '18 at 23:24

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