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Swiss to pilot European aviation authority

André Auer will head the European Joint Aviation Authorities

(Keystone)

A controversial former Swiss government official is to take over at the helm of Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA).

André Auer stepped down last August as head of Switzerland’s civil aviation office amid accusations that he had failed to arrest a decline in air safety standards.

Auer said he would take up his new position as JAA chief executive at the beginning of November.

His main task will be to ensure the smooth transition of the JAA into a new European Aviation Safety Agency.

The JAA represents the civil aviation regulatory authorities of a number of European states which have agreed to cooperate in developing and implementing common safety standards.

It employs just over 60 staff at its headquarters in the Netherlands and had a budget of around €6.7 million (SFr10.2 million) last year.

Sacked

Auer stepped down as head of Switzerland’s Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) last August amid a controversy about aviation safety standards and regulations.

Three months ago the Swiss cabinet formally terminated Auer's contract, after failing to find him new employment within the federal administration.

It also denied Auer, who had worked for the government for 28 years, a severance payment to the tune of twice his annual salary.

Auer has appealed against the decision and a ruling is expected before the end of the year.

The former head of the FOCA said his appointment to the JAA did not mean he would withdraw his appeal.

Sweeping reforms

The Swiss authorities recently announced a radical shake-up of the FOCA's structure.

Raymond Cron took over from Auer as head of the FOCA in May. The office is reviewing Switzerland's national air safety policy and will reorganise its internal structures.

Reform comes in the wake of an independent report in 2003 by a Dutch institute, which concluded that aviation safety in Switzerland was in decline at the same time as it was improving in other parts of Europe.

Switzerland’s civil aviation authority has had to deal with three major plane crashes over the past four years, including a mid-air collision near Lake Constance in 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

André Auer is to become CEO of the European Joint Aviation Authorities in November.

He was forced to step down as head of the Federal Office for Civil Aviation last year.

He filed an appeal against a government decision to sack him and deny him a severance payment.

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Key facts

The European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) represent the civil aviation regulatory authorities of a number of European states, including Switzerland.
The main task of the JAA is to ensure a high level of aviation safety.
The JAA will be merged with the European Union’s new Aviation Safety Agency.

end of infobox


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