How to expedite the path back to full International Acceptance of CAAs

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ARTICLE:ICAO Annual Safety Report Confirms Excellent Results for 2013

2013 was an exceptional year for aviation safety and the ICAO report which quantifies the level of aviation’s performance is quite impressive. Part of that success is attributable to the efforts of airlines which have adopted SMS and other data-based approaches to preventing problems from occurring.

The focus of ICAO is on the world’s civil aviation authorities. These CAAs are also members of this UN organization. The Montreal-based body scrutinizes the performance of the civil servants who are responsible to regulate their domestic airlines, airports, repair stations and manufacturers. Part of the linked publication is a review of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) which assesses each CAA on seven criteria, a sort of regulating the regulator. The above blue map shows the countries which were graded out at having an overall rating of 61% or better as to aerodromes, air navigation services, accident investigation, airworthiness, operations, licensing, organization and legislation. Listed as being above the line are 98 countries and the countries depicted in white were found to be below the standard.

The FAA and EASA also take time to determine the level of competence of other countries. These triplicate reviews are a painful, but necessary means of convincing some countries that the international minimums are indeed appropriate standards which they MUST exceed. It appears that the ultimate motivator is that the lower categorization and outright ban inhibit tourist air travel and harm the stigmatized country’s economy.

The countries with practices, which are determined to be deficient, most probably resent the criticisms of ICAO, the FAA or EASA. More problematically, it is a difficult conversation with the Secretary/Minister of Transport explaining that the organization has failings and the temper of the dialogue likely to become explosive, when the report is made to the legislative body. This natural political/institutional organization dynamic inhibits the process of responding to the findings that your staff is inadequately trained or that the country’s air navigation system is inadequately maintained. Addressing the legislative issue is even more sensitive; opening sentences like, hypothetically, “the statute which Parliament enacted has been found to be too vague/not granting adequate independence/not providing strong enough sanctions on carriers” are not well received by the legislators who approve your appointment and/or salary.

The process of trying to recover full status is likely to be enhanced by the use of third party consultants . They can establish a more objective relationship with the FAA, EASA and/or ICAO; the conversations with the independent support are more likely to include the unvarnished truth. The surgical actions within the CAA are more readily accepted when someone outside of the structure determines who should be fired/demoted/promoted/etc. The acceptance of the memorandum explaining what is wrong with the CAA’s authorizing legislation is more palatable when the author is not within the ambit of the legislature.

All of these improvements accumulate to a swifter reinstatement of Category 1 status, delisting from the EASA ban list and/or upgrading by ICAO. That shorter elapsed time to greater aviation services equates to quicker arrival of travelers to your country and increased tourism spending.

International castigation as to aviation safety is a bitter pill to swallow; wise use of external resources may minimize that unpleasant experience.

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