By Sunimalee Dias
A team of international aviation officials are presently in the country to ascertain that adequate safety standards are adopted and implemented.
The four member delegation from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is in town to take stock of the safety capabilities and commenced work on 24 October. The delegation is scheduled to conclude its visit on Thursday.
The ultimate goal of the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), launched in January 1999 in response to widespread concerns about the adequacy of aviation safety oversight around the world, is to promote global aviation safety through the regular auditing of safety oversight systems in all ICAO Contracting States.
Specifically, the USOAP inspection focuses on the State’s capability for providing safety oversight, by assessing whether the critical elements of a safety oversight system have been implemented effectively.
The audit teams also determine the country’s level of implementation of safety-relevant ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), associated procedures, guidance material and practices.
Statistics highlight the fact that effective implementation of certain critical elements of a safety oversight system and other ICAO provisions is critical to aviation safety. Programmes such as USOAP help ensure that countries and states consistently implement the critical elements of an oversight system as well as safety-related SARPs and procedures.
The mandatory programme entails some 40 safety oversight audits annually and each ICAO member-state is required to host an audit at least once every six years. The second cycle of USOAP audits commenced in January 2005 and will continue until December 2010.
The newly passed Civil Aviation Bill is an update of the legislation in areas where the law is in place to ensure all requirements are met, whereas according to an old law dating back to the 1950s, a minister would be required to make effect to the requirements.
In addition to this, the new bill also ensures that all service providers be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority pertaining to the competence for granting of the Certificate of Competence.
The ICAO first visited the country back in 1997 to conduct a voluntary assessment of safety oversight capabilities and came down afterwards during 2000-2004 to carry out a follow-up action on the programme initiated voluntarily by the government.
Today, this is being carried out on a mandatory basis in all countries after commencing globally in 2005.