European Commission team to examine Nepalese airlines31 January 2014
KATHMANDU, Nepal – A team from the European Commission (EC) will start conducting on-site inspection of six Nepalese airline companies from early next week, which will provide an opportunity to air carriers to remove their names from the EC’s blacklist.
The EC team, which is arriving in Nepal tomorrow, will visit offices of state-owned Nepal Airlines Company, Buddha Air, Tara Air, Yeti Air, Shree Air and Sita Air beginning Monday.
These on-site inspections will be conducted by four officials of the six-member team visiting Nepal. Another two officials will assess the situation at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the civil aviation regulatory body.
“The team that will visit the CAAN’s office will look into areas like airworthiness, flight operation, personal licensing and accident investigation,” a high-ranking official of CAAN told The Himalayan Times on condition of anonymity.
On the other hand, the members visiting airline companies will look into air safety measures adopted by these operators.
For this, CAAN has already asked the six airline companies to prepare a checklist that complies with provisions of the Flight Operations Requirements and the Air Operator Certificate Requirements.
“The companies have been asked to submit this checklist by tomorrow so that we can present it to the EC team,” the CAAN source said, adding, “If the team is happy with the findings, it might recommend removing the ban placed on domestic aviation companies at its headquarter.”
The EC, in December, had banned Nepal-based airline companies from flying into or within the European Union due to a high number of air accidents in the country and the CAAN’s inability to improve air safety situation here.
Following this, CAAN had formed a rapid action unit to work on shortcomings identified by the Inter-
national Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) — a UN body that sets international aviation standards — that led the EC to blacklist Nepal’s aviation sector. This seven-member unit, led by former CAAN director general Tri Ratna Manandhar, particularly focused on addressing short-term issues like strengthening the legal framework by making amendments to regulations as recommended by the ICAO.
Since then, CAAN, among others, has amended the Civil Aviation Regulation and has prepared the Procedure for Detention and Release of Aircraft, which gives the authority to the CAAN chief to detain aircraft that may put lives of people or properties at risk.
Earlier this month, CAAN had also invited Alan Tang, an ICAO certified aviation auditor, to conduct a gap analysis on aviation laws formulated by the country. During his stay, Tang had also gone through Air Operator Certificate Requirements prepared in November 2012 and laid numerous suggestions to further strengthen the legal document, based on which operating licences are issued to various airline companies.
“We have already worked on suggestions laid by Tang. Alongside, we have also made changes to the legal framework as per the recommendation of ICAO,” the source said, expressing hope of getting a good review of domestic aviation sector from the EC team.
A snapshot of how Nepal’s aviation sector fared in the eyes of EC officials will be seen on February 8 when the team will brief CAAN officials. The team will submit a report to the Air Safety Committee at the EC’s headquarters in Brussels on February 14.
“Based on this report, the meeting of the EC Air Safety Committee that is likely to take place in March or April will decide on whether to lift the ban placed on Nepal’s aviation sector,” the source said.