DALLAS — The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has proposed a new regulation to enhance the safety, cybersecurity, and consistency of ground handling operations at EU airports. This regulation would impact approximately 300,000 workers in the ground handling industry, making it one of the largest groups of aviation employees affected.
According to passengerterminaltoday.com, the proposed regulation aims to ensure that ground handling is covered by existing cybersecurity regulations and addresses the ever-present threat of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, including airports. By regulating ground handling, EASA aims to prevent unauthorized access to operational technology networks, which it says could disrupt crucial operations and jeopardize passenger safety.
Until now, ground handling has been primarily self-regulated, with operational arrangements and safety measures documented in bilateral agreements between service providers and aircraft operators. However, EASA’s proposed regulation seeks to establish a more efficient oversight process for ground-handling organizations through competent authorities. This would reduce the need for multiple audits and allow organizations to allocate resources more effectively, according to the proposed piece of legislation.
While aircraft operators will remain responsible for overall aircraft safety and flight safety, the proposed regulation emphasizes the importance of ground handling in ensuring the safety of flights. It addresses safety issues related to ground-handling vehicles and requires organizations to comply with EU requirements by implementing operational procedures, industry standards, and good practices. This includes having a management system, a safety culture, staff training, maintenance programs for ground support equipment, and robust reporting and addressing of safety issues.
The ground handling regulation is expected to be published in late 2024 or early 2025. Following its publication, there will be a three-year transition period for organizations to implement the regulation’s requirements.