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Panel set up to tackle air safety concerns

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 11, 2015-

The government has set up a high-level committee to tackle the concerns raised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) over Nepal’s aviation safety issue.

The government’s move comes nearly two years after Nepal was included in the EASA air safety list and the significant safety concerns (SSC) list of the ICAO.

The EASA is an agency of the European Union with regulatory and executive tasks in the field of civilian aviation safety.

Suresh Acharya, joint-secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said the government has assembled the experts’ group considering the fact that the aviation safety issue demands constant high-level intervention.

A seven-member committee is led by former Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Rajesh Raj Dali. “The committee has been entrusted with the task of making a number of recommendations to address the weaknesses identified by both the global aviation watchdogs,” said Acharya, who is also the member-secretary of the committee. The committee has been given three months’ time to submit the report.  Acharya said the committee would also monitor and review the ongoing works carried out by the Caan in resolving the safety issues. As the Caan plans to invite the ICAO revalidation mission in March 2016 to audit the corrective measures taken by Nepal, the committee would play a key role in suggesting and facilitating on necessary policies and other technical aspects. The mission is normally invited by a state when it is fully confident that it has fulfilled all the compliances with international safety standards.

According to Caan, Nepali carriers will not be removed from the European Commission blacklist unless the SSC tagged by the ICAO is eliminated.

Unsatisfied with Nepal’s progress, ICAO had given the SSC tag to Nepal’s aviation sector in its audit report in August 2013 after conducting an on-site audit from July 10-16, 2013.

ICAO has grave concerns about Nepal’s air safety, and has placed it among the 13 worst performing nations, namely Botswana, Kazakhstan, Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Lebanon, Malawi, Papua New Guinea and Thailand. Thailand was the latest country to join the list.

Nepal has been red-flagged on “operations”, among the eight critical elements of safety oversight.

ICAO monitors Nepal’s aviation safety oversight capabilities through the ICAO Coordinated Validation Missions (ICVM). International airlines and travellers hesitate to travel to a country whose air safety has been questioned by ICAO.

Nepal has performed poorly in effectively implementing air safety oversight systems, appearing way down in the 37th position out of 46 Asian countries, according to the safety audit report of ICAO. The audit report shows that Nepal has received a rating of 55.1 per cent, much below the Asian average.

On Dec 5, 2013, the European Commission had put all Nepali carriers in its bad books for the worst record of air safety oversight based on ICAO’s safety audit.

The EC has asked European operators and travel agents to inform European travellers who will have the right to reimbursement if they had booked a seat on a Nepali carrier as part of a journey to Nepal and decide not to use it.

Published: 11-10-2015 08:58

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