Adapting regulation to AI
Flyinstinct Interview Report: EUROCAE
November 26, 2020
Sergiu MARZAC (EUROCAE Technical Programme Manager)
Yasser CHAHBOUN (Flyinstinct Project Manager)
Arthur CHEVROLLIER (Flyinstinct Intern)
Flyinstinct has recently joined EUROCAE – a young and dynamic team serving the aviation
industry. Our mission is to facilitate the airside inspection and enhance the aviation safety by
developing FOD detection systems for airports’ airside areas. We invite you discover
EUROCAE with us after interviewing Sergiu Marzac, the Technical Programme Manager who
coordinates the WG-83 “Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Systems”.
EUROCAE: European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment
An independent non-profit organisation with over 60 years of history supporting the European industry with high quality standards. It was founded in 1963 in Lucerne by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) States and it is based in Paris. The organisation is fully dedicated to aviation but also collaborates with other domains to cross exchange information which could facilitate to enable new solutions in the aviation domain.
Flyinstinct: Could you describe your position in EUROCAE?
Sergiu MARZAC: I joined the organisation in 2017 and I am currently part of the the Technical Programme
Managers team and responsible for 13 Working Groups (WG), which belong to different topics: four of them are related to the airport environment (like WG 83 for instance), others relate to enhanced vision systems, environmental conditions certification or lightning protection. It is an interesting but also challenging job to make sure that all WGs are set-up, leadership identified and that the work has started and is progressing according to the applicable terms of references and approved work programme.. Therefore, I must ensure these groups are following the correct procedures for it and deliver the standards in a timely manner. The most important thing is that I feel that being a part of EUROCAE I am bringing a useful contribution to the aviation community.
Flyinstinct: Which are the main action areas of EUROCAE?
Sergiu MARZAC: We started with four main areas back in 1963: avionics, communication, navigation, and surveillance. And then we extended to ATM systems, airports, electric aircrafts, lightning protection, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, RPAS/VTOL, hybrid propulsion, SWIM, among others., serving the changing needs of the aviation community and accompanying innovation in aviation.
We are addressing the standardisation on equipment and process level, but also services, for which there is a remarkable demand e. g UTM/U-space for the Urban Air Mobility.
We aim to address the most topical aviation subject which is deemed to be relevant for the
industry and for our members.
Flyinstinct: How is EUROCAE organised?
Sergiu MARZAC: From the organisational perspective, EUROCAE follows a classical governance scheme of
an Association. There is a General Assembly, the highest body including all Full Members in charge of defining the strategic direction and a President. Moreover, the decision-making body, which is the Council, is supported by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in terms of technical expertise. In addition , there is the Secretariat managing the Working Groups and their work as well as other EUROCAE activities. We are an organisation that is membership based. We are registered in France, but we have members located worldwide ;40% of them are non-European. We are proud to have this global outreach and that our standards contribute to global harmonisation and interoperability.
Flyinstinct: What are the main objectives of an EUROCAE Working Group?
Sergiu MARZAC: Any member can freely propose an activity which could lead to a creation of a new working
group. There is a very well defined process behind it with the involvement of the governing bodies. TAC evaluates p potential standardisation proposals and checks if it is included in the TWP and that there is not an overlap with another existing activity.
To make sure the activity will be supported by the industry a Call for interest is launched, if necessary, before submitting the initiative to Council for approval. Only after the ToR is approved by the Council the WG is officially launched. The main objective of a WG is to develop standards following a well-established and proven process applicable at EUROCAE. When a WG is established, a call for participation is launched to identify the interested members to support the activity and among those a chairperson and a secretary are elected to lead the WG.
A timeline is then defined to develop the standard and it depends on several factors: the number of participants, the type of the standard (minimum aviation safety performance standards, minimum operational performance standards, etc) and the complexity of the issue addressed. Generally, the timeline to complete and publish a standard can be from three months to two years. The WGs are free to establish their way of working i.e. number of meetings, sub-groups etc. but all of them must follow the general ED development process, including drafting and WG operation guidelines:
Flyinstinct: Is there a guideline followed in a EUROCAE WG to find the balance of interests between all
Sergiu MARZAC: In EUROCAE we ensure a balanced representation in the working groups by always having a variety of stakeholders. There are procedures in place to ensure such a balanced representation, .e.g. through widely published calls for participation, but it is also our role as TPMs to be alert on this specific aspect. For instance, in WG-83 “Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Systems” we can find regulators, air navigation service providers, the systems manufacturers, airport and aircraft operators. Therefore, the standard developed is based on a balance of interests. Our standards are consensus based.
For instance, when a standard is ready within a Working Group, the members will not proceed to vote for its final approval, but will make sure that the right solution is found to accommodate everyone participating in the WG activity. The standard will not be made available for an open consultation unless there is a clear consensus. After that the draft document is launched for Open Consultation to an audience going beyond EUROCAE membership – anyone can comment the draft ED. It is a validation exercise which provides to our standards a high level of quality, robustness and shows stakeholders’ buy-in.
Flyinstinct: At EUROCAE, are you ensuring the link between regulators and industry representatives in
terms of safety and efficiency?
Sergiu MARZAC: At EUROCAE, the safety is always the first priority. We have a well-defined “WG Operations”
procedure as well as drafting rules. It is generally indicated that our standards should be developed efficiently to ensure a high level of quality without compromising safety in any manner. We have several members representing the regulatory authorities: in Europe we collaborate with the European Commission (EC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and on a global level, with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), but also other national authorities from all over the world.
Our standards are intended to complement the regulatory frame. Our engagement with the regulators starts already when we define the work package. Thus, the regulator is included in the standard development process as other members from the industry to ensure the standard is compatible with the regulation specifications and it can be referenced as acceptable means of compliance. We are adapting our processes to serve all of our members’ needs, accelerate the standards development activities when possible and minimise the time needed for administrative procedures, to allow the WGs to make the best use of time and resources available.
Flyinstinct: Could you describe the WG-83 “Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Systems”?
Sergiu MARZAC: The group was established in October 2009 with the objective of developing guidance
documents to support airports and manufacturers implementing systems which deal with FOD detection. Currently we have around 35 experts registered for the WG representing approx. 25 organisations (ICAO, EASA, CAAs, airports, manufacturers (airborne, ground) etc.). Since the beginning of the work, three deliverables have been published:
- ER-003 “Definition and Taxonomy for FOD”, published in 2013
- ED-235 “MASPS for Foreign Object Debris Detection System”, published in 2016
- ED-274 “OSED for FOD Detection System”, published in 2020In 2021, the WG intends to start the revision of ED-235 for its update based on the recent technological developments and to support the regulatory framework.
Flyinstinct: Why is Runway Safety a major element at stake for the aviation industry?
Sergiu MARZAC: Runway safety is a global and regional safety priority. We can see that around 80% of incidents
are related to runway safety from the statistics presented in safety reports annually published by ICAO, EASA and other organisations. Therefore, there is a strong interest in mitigating the potential negative outcomes and many initiatives have been taken. At EUROCAE, we think standards will play their role in supporting the community in their strive to reduce the probability of occurrences. If we focus on runway inspections, some standards have been developed for airports willing to use new FOD detection systems, such as the ones mentioned in the WG-83.
Flyinstinct: What are the specific issues raised by the implementation of FOD detection systems on airports?
Sergiu MARZAC: The elements usually considered during the development of this topic within the WG-83 were
mainly: the physical and operational complexity of each airport; the weather conditions; the performance of each FOD detection system when detecting a debris, the alerts, behaviour of the user, etc.
Flyinstinct: What is your opinion/analysis of the existing FOD detection solutions based on radar or electro-optical (camera) used in some stationary and mobile systems?
Sergiu MARZAC: It is important to know that, at EUROCAE, we do not favour any concrete technical solution. We focus on identifying more innovative solutions and indicate the minimum performance levels to be met by the system or equipment in the standards . Our goal is to ensure that the standards are worldwide applicable so they can be used by stakeholders during tendering processes but also as guidance material and acceptable means of compliance to show the regulatory requirements are met.
Flyinstinct: What do you think about the challenge of an alternative solution of FOD detection to strengthen the human visual inspection?
Sergiu MARZAC: Some of the regulations have come into force when the technology was not so advanced yet.
In FOD detection, for instance, there is still a mandatory physical inspection of the runway to be carried out by the airport operator. With the latest technological developments, we have seen that the approach has changed and something which was unimaginable ten years ago now is a reality in some domains, for example, Remote Towers.
As soon as technology will show the minimum level of reliability and safety can be ensured, FOD detection systems might become an alternative to physical inspections. For the moment, I do not see any issues in co-existence of physical inspections supported by FOD mobile or stationary systems. When the time comes, it will for sure bring additional benefits to increase runway safety.
Flyinstinct: What are the main difficulties you faced as the technical programme manager of the WG-83?
Sergiu MARZAC: I am very pleased to work with this community. At EUROCAE, the Member’s experts are one
of our most important assets, providing always valuable inputs from their first-hand experience. Until now the main challenge was the commitment of the members. They are actively representing their organisations but, for EUROCAE, they are voluntary workforces. This means, when companies have other priorities, they will redirect their resources elsewhere. What we try to do is to address topics relevant to their industry to keep them always engaged.
Flyinstinct: What will be the major missions of EUROCAE in the next five years?
Sergiu MARZAC: At EUROCAE we want to identify the emerging needs, to be adaptive and agile to stay in the
momentum of latest technologies by working with the R&D community and stakeholders to transpose R&D results in concrete technical standards.
We also focus on keeping industry representatives and regulators motivated and involved in standardisation. Our goal is to support the operational development and regulatory processes for today and tomorrow, especially during the recovery in the current situation.
EUROCAE will also continue to play a major role in coordinating European and worldwide standardisation activities, to avoid overlapping activities and to use our members resources effectively and efficiently in a quick changing environment.