Zambia makes crucial step towards removal of Air Safety concerns - EU support lauded (28/01/2013)

INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION ORGANISATION (ICAO) AUDIT OF ZAMBIAN CIVIL AVIATION SECTOR

An audit under  what is known as the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme USOAP) on the Zambian Civil Aviation Sector was conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)   from 26th January to 3rd February 2009 and 4th to 9th April 2009.

As a result of this audit ninety-eight (98) findings and one significant safety concern (SSC) were recorded. The significant safety concern was as a result of non compliance to the five phase air operator certification process which ICAO had introduced to ensure that operators applying for air service permits complied with international safety requirements. This is what brought about the European Union ban of Zambian registered aircraft from operating into the European Airspace.

Over the past three years, the Zambian Department of Civil Aviation has been engaged with the International Civil Aviation organisation, through mutually developed corrective action plans detailing how the findings and the significant safety concern were being addressed step by step by correspondence and exchanging electronic data. Prior to the validation mission, both parties were satisfied that the issues leading to the significant safety concern and other safety related findings were adequately addressed. This therefore paved way for the ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) to be conducted which was conducted from the 12th to 18th December 2012 by a team of four ICAO experts. The ICVM is a necessary onsite verification of the actual status on the ground.

The good news is that Zambia was on 10th January 2013 reported by ICAO to have successfully resolved the Significant Safety Concern. This is a very crucial step towards the removal of Zambia from the ICAO Safety Watch list and subsequently from the EU Ban List. The European Union has its own distinct requirements, procedures and processes apart from ICAO for removing airlines and safety oversight agencies from the Ban List.

This therefore means that Government will then be able to engage the European Union over the possible removal of the EU Ban. It should be stated that the EU has been a great cooperating partner with the Zambian Government and are currently providing Technical Assistance, Support to the aviation sector under the 10th European Development Fund. The Contractor engaged under this programme has been onsite since January 2012 and the components of this project include:

  • Upgrade of the Aviation Legal, Institutional and   Organisational framework
  • Implementation of Training, Visibility and Communication Activities
  • Enhancement of safety and security oversight capacity of Zambia DCA or new Civil Aviation Authority
  • Provide support to the Contracting Authority (Ministry of Finance) by purchasing some relevant dedicated equipment for the main sector stakeholders. (Department of Civil Aviation, National Airports Corporation Limited and Zambia Air Services Training Institute); and
  • Global Management

I wish to announce that, the Civil Aviation Authority Act, (Act No.7 of 2012) came into being on 9th August 2012 to pave way for the transformation of the Department of Civil Aviation into an autonomous Zambia Civil Aviation Authority. This new institution will regulate   and provide effective and efficient safety oversight of the aviation sector because it will be able to attract, recruit and retain highly qualified aviation professionals and provide them tools to carry out their mandate better than is the case under the Department of Civil Aviation under which has been part of the civil service structure, where it has had to compete for funding from the central treasury with the more needy social sector of the Zambian economy.

With this kind of set up, the aviation sector will be able to maintain standards and recommended practices demanded by the Convention on Civil Aviation and the European Aviation Safety Agency.  There will be little or no cause for a significant safety concern to be ever recorded against the Zambia aviation sector in future.

 

Honourable Christopher B Yaluma
Minister
TRANSPORT, WORKS, SUPPLY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Monday 28th January 2012.