ICAO’s priorities should reflect International Aviation Safety Risks

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The ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (Nigeria) holds a position of great aviation importance and his actions serve as a symbol of what are the priorities of his UN organization. As noted below, in pursuit of a “No Country Left Behind” initiative, he visited the countries of Madagascar and the Comoros. What is the message sent by these visits of the head of ICAO?

To set the context, ICAO has established Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as a baseline and relies of its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program to identify deficiencies.

ICAO has found a number of Civil Aviation Authorities to have failed their review. The above ICAO chart shows how these two countries were graded in the seven dimensions assessed. Madagascar met or exceeded four of those criteria and Comoros’s scores only were satisfactory as to legislation.

According to news reports, countries like the New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Nigeria and others have recently been found to have failed to meet the ICAO standards [some have subsequently been reinstated]. Several of those sovereigns are home to major airlines and thus, under a risk analysis basis should draw a high level of attention from ICAO.

Thailand, for example, regulates a civil aviation fleet of over 130 aircraft (Philippine Air ~ 68 large airliners and 5 turbo props; CebuPacific ~50, a few of which are ATR turboprops; AirAsia.com, 13 large airliners). Thai Airways alone operates 94 complex aircraft. Under SMS analysis, for which the ICAO is a great advocate, these countries should draw prioritized surveillance. In contrast, the Comoros Aviation International owns seven turboprops. Air Madagascar operates 3 A-340s, 1 Boeing 737 and 6 turbo props.

ICAO, as with all governmental bodies, does not have unlimited resources. Its outreach should allocate its assets to those Civil Aviation Authorities which pose the greatest risks to passengers around the world. The relatively small fleets of Comoros and Madagascar appear not to merit the symbolic visit of ICAO’s Council President in the larger scheme of its mission.

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