FAA vs. ICAO vs. EASA Examples

In recent days, I have been witness to several conversations about the interplay between ICAO the FAR’s and EASA. Basically the questions will boil down to two significant issues being debated;

#1 “Why does EASA have the right to inspect our 91/GA aircraft?”

#2 “What class medical exam do I need to operate in EASA countries?”

“Why does EASA have the right to inspect our 91/GA aircraft?”

First off, the FARS are pretty clear, as a US operator we must comply with the aviation rules inside a particular country and ICAO when over the “High Seas”. Take a look at 14CFR91.703, 135.3 and 121.11 and you will see a common theme on this subject. Here are some points from the ICAO Articles (that I will paraphrase):

Article 1, Sovereignty

It is their country and the sky above it

Article 2, Territory

The landmass below the sky and the bodies of water near the landmass too.

Article 16, Search of Aircraft

Countries are allowed to inspect all aircraft inside their boundaries

Article 29, Documents Carried in Aircraft

Every aircraft needs to carry documentation on-board. Papers like, certificate of registration, certificate of airworthiness, appropriate licenses for each member of the crew, journey logbook, aircraft radio station license, a list of the passenger’s names and places of embarkation and destination, and a cargo manifest.

Article 37, Adoption of International Standards and Procedures

Each “ICAO country” will try to meet the highest practicable degree of uniformity in regulations, standards, procedures, and organization in relation to aircraft, personnel, airways and auxiliary services in all matters which such uniformity will facilitate and improve air navigation.

Article 38 Departures from International Standards and Procedures

Any country that cannot or will not comply with an ICAO standard and/or procedure needs to publish this difference within sixty days of the ICAO implementation.

The Next Part is a Little Tricky

A country can choose to be in the EU or not. Since 2007 If the country chooses to be in the European Union, the European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA is the aviation authority setting the standards and procedures by which the country will abide by. EASA has chosen to be very ICAO compliant in their aviation dealings. To date, no EU country has chosen to depart from this standard. The United Kingdom’s “Brexit” is the first of a kind in this regard.

On the subject of ramp checks in the EU, you are either registered in the EU as a “Member State” or outside the EU as a “Third Country” operator. Either way EASA has delegated the inspection authority to the EU country you are operating into, they are the ones authorized by the EU to inspect your aircraft under EU law.

To their credit EASA has developed a list of items and standards that they are inspecting. What is missing on this list is the details that the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft, SAFA checks are constructed around ICAO Annex 6, Part 1 standards (Commercial Ops) vice ICAO Annex 6, Part 2 (International General Aviation). Results from the SAFA checks are used to bar foreign airlines from operations inside the EU due to safety concerns.

“What Class Medical do I need to Operate in ICAO/EASA countries?”

ICAO Annex 1, Paragraph and drives Commercial and ATP holders to a First Class Medical. The US AIP does list differences to Annex 1 in General Section, Paragraph 1.7 Paragraph, stating that an “EKG” is required every 12mos intervals.

“What is the duration on my Medical in ICAO/EASA countries?”

Paragraph determines the duration of that medical. Inside Paragraph states that First Class medicals are valid for 12mos when held by Commercial or ATP certificated pilots. Paragraph reduces this interval to 6mos when an ATP pilot is past age 60 AND engaged in commercial air transport.

“How Old can I be to Legally Operate in ICAO/EASA countries?”

Paragraph 2.1.10 directs any “2 pilot commercial pilot activity” Pilot in command to be younger than age 65. Co-pilots are not restricted by age. The US AIP in General Section, Paragraph 1.7 does not list any differences to under Annex 1, Paragraph 2.1.10.

The key piece here for US operators is H.R.4343 from 2007, the ‘Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act”. This speaks directly to 121 ops only, limiting PIC’s to Age 65. For domestic USA Part 91 and 135 aircraft operators, the Age 65 rule does not affect their operations.

“When Does my Medical Expire in ICAO/EASA countries?”

ICAO Annex 1, Paragraph directs that the period of validity of a Medical Assessment shall begin on the day the medical examination is performed. The paragraph just after this, Paragraph states that “The period of validity of a Medical Assessment may be extended, at the discretion of the Licensing Authority,

up to 45 days. There is a note inside this paragraph that goes on to say, “It is advisable to let the calendar day on which the Medical Assessment expires remain constant year after year” FAA uses 14 CFR 61.23 and this passage to direct your FAA medical expire on the last day of the month of the exam vice the date of exam.


Cross the USA border to an international destination with a FAA Class One Medical Certificate, renewed every six months. This ensures that the pilot has an EKG that is less than 12mos old. FAA medical certificates expire at the EOM, except while in country that does not allow EOM expiration.

My Head Hurts from all this Regulation Quoting!

For the short story look here at NBAA’s excellent resource

Remember this from the FAA too:

Here is the link to find a copy of ICAO Annex 1: