ICAO: Examine Safety Implications of Norwegian Air Business Model

Today, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) endorsed a letter sent by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) urging the formation of an ICAO study group to review safety implications of an airline business model that conducts all flight operations outside the borders of the state responsible for safety oversight. ALPA shares the concerns raised by IFALPA, a global organization that represents more than 100,000 commercial airline pilots in 100 countries.

In the letter, IFALPA highlights the concern that ICAO Annex 6, the international safety regulation that lays out guidelines for the safe operation of aircraft, does not address situations in which an airline issued an air operator certificate (AOC) does not operate to or from the state issuing the AOC. In the case of Norwegian Air International (NAI), the state, Ireland, issued NAI an AOC, but the airline does not fly to or from Ireland.

IFALPA flagged this arrangement as “an emerging trend” in international commercial aviation and, as such, an issue that demands detailed review by the ICAO. The concern expressed by both ALPA and IFALPA is the potential difficulty of a state to provide rigorous, effective safety oversight, as it is charged by ICAO to do, when an airline has no operations or maintenance activity within the borders of that state.

ALPA, the world’s largest nongovernmental safety organization, has expressed similar concerns over NAI’s business model and maintains that the top priority of any airline business plan and any state’s regulatory structure must be maintaining the highest possible safety standards for every aspect of the airline’s operations. The pilots union has been characterized as the safety watchdog of our industry, and for more than 80 years “Schedule with Safety” has been our motto.