End of Third Country Operators’ transition period

On 26 November 2016 the Third Country Operators (TCO) regulation will be fully implemented. As of this date, only operators who hold a TCO authorisation from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will be able to operate commercial flights to and from the EASA Member States (European Union + Norway, Switzerland and Iceland).

During the 30-month transition period after the entry into force of the TCO regulation in May 2014, EASA has issued almost 600 authorisations to operators certified in 90 different third countries. Authorised TCO perform more than half million flights to the EU every year, using more than 7000 aircraft.

The TCO regulation is the centralised process to authorise non-European operators to perform commercial air transport activities in Europe. One single safety authorisation centrally issued by EASA has replaced the various schemes which were in place at the national level before the introduction of the TCO regulation. With this mechanism, EASA Member States no longer perform safety assessments of TCO individually as this is done centrally by EASA as a service for all Member States. EASA Member States may no longer issue operating permits for commercial flights to TCO not holding an authorisation. Flying commercially to Europe without holding an authorisation constitutes a violation of the TCO regulation. This may result in enforcement action and can entail grounding of the aircraft or a requirement for a “ferry-out”.