Flights News On How To Maintain Aviation Safety In Africa To The International Standards

Flights News On How To Maintain Aviation Safety In Africa To The International Standards

The increased accident rates are the most visible consequence of sub-Saharan Africa’s struggling aviation safety system. Due to lack of political will at the highest levels of government for taking proactive steps on behalf of aviation safety has contributed to the underlying cause of distressing accident rate in this part of the world. However in most cases it may not be that simple. Often the key political officials are not the authorities responsible for safety in aviation. Empowerment of the civil aviation department by the other government branches plays a critical role in enabling much-needed legislative changes. Institutional grievances, lack of communication, difficulty in understanding the international regulatory regime and the economic consequences of not meeting its standards, and outdated regulatory frameworks must be overcome before determination at the top of the political establishment can be effective. Through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audits-of states’ government civil aviation departments or independent civil aviation authorities (CAAs) some consequences of the current situation in Africa is discovered. Though formerly audit reports were to be confidential but became public March 1, 2008. Another consequence has been the blacklisting of some African airlines by the European Union. Various African states are working towards improving their safety oversight systems on the basis of the findings of ICAO audits. However, many Africa civil aviation departments, those lacking the autonomy of CAAs, need the international aviation community to work with them in creating an enabling environment. That support will help African aviation professionals get the essential political backing from their government and legislative bodies. Such a campaign to provide the preconditions for political will must focus on a number of issues. Creating Political Momentum. Quite a few African countries have an established safety oversight system based on an outdated legal framework. The laws and regulations sometimes date back to the 1950s or 1960s.They were developed for a completely different era of the aviation industry. Such legal instruments may, for example, be geared to looking at purely technical solutions to safety issues. At best, they may take account of human factors. But hardly any are sufficiently current to tackle the issue of organizational weaknesses, as today’s safety management systems do. When the civil aviation departments try to realize fundamental changes toward the modern legal codes needed for adequate safety oversight then they may face political reluctance. Likewise they may face similar political reluctance when trying to restructure the system in the direction of independent CAAs.The civil aviation department may have to persuade its parent Ministry, the cabinet and parliament that regulatory independence or regionalization is a critical step to move effective supervision and aviation safety improvements. Quite a number of East and Southern African states have members of parliament who represent a district constituency. In such electoral systems, not only in Africa but throughout the world, some members of parliament are influenced by whether they can see political gain in supporting a particular legislative or administrative change to aviation safety oversight legislation. Moreover, members of parliament belonging to the political opposition may sometimes be reluctant to support changes favored by the ruling party. With the transfer of a minister or secretary of transport will often mean new aviation policies and new managers of the civil aviation department. With this changes, in turn, may result in having to start over again in familiarizing the new officials with aviation safety issues and the need to push for changes in laws and regulations or for regulatory independence from politics. Members of parliament, however, usually remain in office for their full term. They are a more constant force in government. It would certainly help aviation departments to have explanatory documentation written for a non-aviation audience to sensitize new members of parliament and ministers about the roles and international responsibilities of the aviation regulators. Such documentation should also explain the relevance of aviation safety to possible blacklisting and subsequent consequences for tourism and trade. That may also help win the support of key political players. Civil Service Realities. Another ingredient for political will is recognition of civil service realities. After all, resistance to restructuring of aviation departments may come from many professional corners. While there are opportunities for aviation inspectors to earn considerably more by moving to a commercial aviation job as a typical middle management civil servant in many African states may earn no more than us$ 500 per month. Also the government can not justify why a particular class of civil servants or experts, namely those in aviation, should earn significantly more than others. More and more, the international aviation community considers the regionalization of safety oversight to be the best way to solve deficiencies in safety supervision.However, regional cooperation brings up issues of national independence and pride in Africa, just as it does elsewhere in the world, so the road to regionalization is not easy. An added complication in the case of African countries with a district electoral system is that decisions about these solutions may be put to members of parliament who may have no direct political interest in approving them. While regional cooperation is a very constructive path, it should not lead to delaying the building of national capabilities. This is particularly true since lengthy development times are usually involved with such regional solutions. Capability build-up at a national level can very well be gradually integrated into the regional entity in due time. The civil aviation department should consider salary top-ups –a supplemental income for key safety oversight experts and this will serve as a temporary solution. Salary top-ups are contentious issue but may provide a bridge to more structural solutions such as regional oversight organizations. In fact, even the ICAO cooperative Development of Operational Safety and continuing Airworthiness Program (COSCAP) projects rely indirectly on salary top-ups. Salary top-ups help keep professionals with international qualifications available for critical civil service positions and other economic sectors are the health sector. In some cases, top-ups are supported by international community. Examples from other sectors seem to indicate that the costs involved in salary top-ups could be borne fairly easily by the international community. Sharing Experience of Regulatory Independence. A campaign for political understanding can also draw on experiences with regulatory independence in other countries wave of political and financial independence for government departments throughout Africa in the early 1990s has brought mixed experiences. The civil aviation through the collection of navigation and landing fees it has been empowered to use the finances for its operations. Through political independence the organization can operate outside the political mainstream. It then no longer has to devote previous resources to routinely addressing purely political issues. For those countries that the aviation industry may be too small to generate sufficient revenues for a financially independent CAA, then in these cases, regionalization of safety oversight may be a solution. The African region can be helped by assistance in the form of tools to build an economic case for an independent civil aviation authority. Parliaments in Africa may want to know what are the credible sources of income for an authority-only with sufficient income can an authority survive on its own.The amount of revenue that is generated by a particular level of industry activity is quite often difficult to quantify, however. Though a number of documents describe the tasks of a civil aviation authority, but they provide no logical explanation of the raison d’être for a civil aviation authority and its critical function in aviation safety based on state responsibilities. The international aviation safety community should consider organizing a program that enables countries in the region to learn from countries that already have established a CAA. Raising Public Awareness. Improving media reporting on the international safety oversight responsibilities that have to be met by aviation authorities will also have to be an ingredient of the ‘political understanding’ campaign. Also ensuring numerous articles on safety are written in which responsibilities and powers of ICAO are misinterpreted. The media often do not understand the international expertise that is required to provide adequate safety oversight. Such experts can easily seek greener pastures in a growing industry in Africa or in other regions of the world, such as the Middle East. Some news stories may be based on little or no research, encouraging unjustified public resistance to establishing financially and politically independent authorities and higher salary structures based on international standards. Some countries pay specific attention to the deficiencies in air navigation services, as well as the inconsistency between deficiencies and the charges for these services. The most notorious subject is radar coverage. Since it is one of the most visible pieces of infrastructure, the media eagerly pick up the issue, followed by calls for better navigation facilities and VHF radio communication coverage in controlled areas.However, there are other areas of aviation safety such as safety oversight that also deserve attention. Tanzania is among the countries that have taken the important step of organizing aviation