Safety assessements of domestic and foreign registered aircraft and their operators (SAFA, SACA, SANA).
Under the bilateral agreements with the European Union, Switzerland is required to carry out unannounced inspections (ramp inspections) of aircraft as part of a centrally coordinated programme run by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This programme is based on Article 4 of European Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 and is regulated by EASA. Under the programme, aircraft of operators subject to the oversight of another member state or a third country may undergo random inspections for technical and operational safety. Fifty countries currently participate in the programme, including Switzerland.
Who conducts the inspections?
The Federal Office of Civil Aviation employs specially trained inspectors to carry out the ramp inspections at all domestic airfields in accordance with internationally standardised specifications. The aim is to create a uniform and high level of civil aviation safety in Europe.
Categorisation and applicable legal bases
As the aircraft have different countries of origin, different legal bases also apply, which is why ramp inspections are categorised as follows:
- Aircraft from third countries: SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft)
- Aircraft from member states: SACA (Safety Assessment of Community Aircraft)
- Domestic aircraft: SANA (Safety Assessment of National Aircraft)
SAFA inspections therefore follow the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), whereas SACA and SANA are subject to the implementing regulations of European civil aviation law.
Evaluation of inspections
The results of the inspections are recorded in standardised reports and entered in a centralised database (EASA Ramp Inspection Tool). Both the operator of the inspected aircraft and the competent authority for it are informed of the inspection result. The information gathered is exchanged primarily at European level. Serious and repeated safety deficiencies can ultimately lead to a listing on the European Union's Air Safety List, which can result in severe restrictions for the airlines concerned, or in the worst case scenario, a ban on using European airspace.
EASA's role is to ensure ongoing standardisation across the programme, analyse inspection data and report to the European Commission and participating states, in particular when safety deficiencies become apparent.
Based on Regulation (EU) 2018/1042, which has been transposed into Swiss law, flight crew members are now subject to random alcohol checks during these ramp inspections. These are carried out on an ad hoc basis, i.e. even when there are no grounds for suspicion.