In a time of extreme pressure on defence budgets, harmonising military airworthiness among allies can bring big benefits. In a recent article in the February edition of the RAeS publication, Aerospace, Air Vice-Marshal Martin Clark FRAeS, Director (Technical), Military Aviation Authority (MAA), reviews recent progress.
In a September 2014 Aerospace article, Howard Wheeldon described how the MAA had grown and developed since its creation in April 2010, following the publication of the Nimrod review into the tragic loss of Nimrod XV230. As part of its drive to re-establish the importance of managing military airworthiness effectively, the MAA has continued to support, and often lead, the extension of this work into Europe and beyond in order to improve understanding and consistency in approach for this critical area amongst our international allies. Other benefits are anticipated through creating the opportunity to share work done by the military airworthiness community to help reduce the cost of procurement and support activity, for both the participating nations and national industries.
This work has its origins in the early 2000s, when it became clear that international military aircraft projects were being managed in a variety of different ways, largely due to the varying needs of the collaborating nations and the differing responsibilities of national industries. Each nation had developed its own sovereign regulations or laws governing military aviation, often informed by lessons learned from the national perspective, and there seemed little appetite to change. However, as defence spending reduced and there was pressure to deliver more for less, the cost of these international programmes came increasingly under the spotlight. It was in this context that the UK championed a proposal to harmonise military airworthiness arrangements across Europe. This gathered broad support and work was initiated formally by the twenty-six participating Member States (pMS) of the European Defence Agency (EDA) who, on 10 November 2008, agreed to the formation of the Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA) Forum. In addition to the pMS, observers from the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other interested organisations were invited to participate in the MAWA Forum. Full Harmonising airworthiness article can be viewed