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European Commission invites Caan to explain progress on safety issues

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The invitation has come less than a week after the EC decided to continue its ban against Nepali airlines

Dec 7, 2017-The European Commission (EC) has invited officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) to Brussels, Belgium in January to explain the steps taken by Nepal to address safety deficiencies.

The invitation has come less than a week after the EC decided to continue its ban against Nepali airlines.

Last Thursday, the EC issued an updated EU air safety list of non-European airlines that do not meet international safety standards and are, therefore, subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.

Caan officials said that the proposed meeting in Brussels could be decisive as Nepal could strongly show the progress made to address the safety deficiencies pointed out by the EC four years ago, and ask to be removed from the safety list.

In December 2013, the EC had imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from entering European airspace.

“The EC has a few concerns regarding safety deficiencies like compliance with safety recommendations made by different aircraft accident committees in the past,” said Rajan Pokhrel, deputy director general of Caan. The EC could also ask Nepal to show the progress made in establishing an independent aircraft accident investigation body, he said.

On July 21, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) removed the significant safety concerns (SSC) tag it had put on Nepal four years ago after assessing that Nepal’s safety standard had improved on a par with global standards.

However, out of the eight critical elements of aviation safety—primary legislation, organization and safety oversight functions, personnel licensing, aircraft operations, airworthiness of aircraft, aerodromes, air navigation system, and accident and incident investigation—only four areas were audited by the Icao officials. These were legislation, organization, operations and airworthiness.

“We have to explain to the EC the progress made by Nepal in the rest of the areas,” said Pokhrel. “We are fully prepared for that,” he said, hinting that Nepal could be removed from the EU air safety list.

The next aviation safety committee meeting which will update the EU air safety list is expected to be held next June.

The government has also begun work to establish an independent aircraft accident investigation body as part of international obligations to improve aviation safety and prevent accidents in the future, which was one of the key concerns raised by the EC. A committee formed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in September submitted a report suggesting appropriate organizational, financial and administrative modalities. The committee has proposed setting up a bureau, commission, branch or unit, whichever is appropriate.

Currently, investigations into aircraft accidents are carried out as per the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accident) Regulation 2014, and aircraft accidents and incidents come under the purview of the government. The usual practice is to form an ad hoc investigation committee immediately after an accident occurs, but the reports produced by such government panels are often criticized for hiding shortcomings.

According to Annex 13 of Icao’s Manual of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, each member state is required to establish an independent organization to conduct investigations into aircraft accidents and incidents that come within the jurisdiction of the state.

Published: 07-12-2017 10:36

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