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As the growth in air traffic accelerates, passengers are demanding a better quality of service, fewer delays and ever decreasing prices, but they also want a guaranteed level of safety. Europe already enjoys a privileged situation because, with a third of global traffic, only a tenth of accidents occur here. This is the result of the combined efforts of the aircraft manufacturers, the airlines and flight crews as well as the national and international authorities charged with the regulation of their activities. Events, however, show regularly that nothing can be taken for granted.


In spite of the harmonisation work led by the national administrations through the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), there are still considerable differences between national practices and it is not unusual for a manufacturer to have to produce different versions of the same type of aircraft or of its equipment according to the country where it will be used. Furthermore, the requirements imposed on operators vary from one country to another and sometimes create disparities between airlines that are in competition with one another in the same markets. The Council of the European Union has put in place a mechanism permitting the introduction into Community law of standards drawn up by the JAA in order to render them part of the Community legal order and therefore obligatory.