KATHMANDU: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal had claimed time and again it was doing its bit to convince the European Union to review its air safety list and consider Nepal as an agenda for the upcoming European Aviation Safety Committee meeting .
CAAN’s claim has, however, fallen flat after the EU made it clear it was unlikely to remove Nepali airlines from its blacklist unless the International Civil Aviation Organisation closed its significant safety concerns about the country’s aviation sector. ICAO had cited a number of deficiencies in regulatory oversight.
“Recent conversations with EU delegates clearly indicated that the aviation safety committee would not discuss Nepal in its November meeting,” CAAN officials involved in discussions told this daily.
It seems the EU ban will continue even through the year 2015 as CAAN has not formally requested ICAO for final audit yet.
“CAAN has invited a South East Asian expert from Cooperation Development of Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Programme in mid-November to study its preparedness before writing to ICAO for final validation,” sources said.
Going by a tentative schedule acknowledged by CAAN, the regulatory body will officially invite ICAO only after the COSCAP expert verifies that each and everything is on track.
“ICAO generally takes four to five months to send its mission to conduct the final audit after formally receiving invitation from its party nation.”
Officials fear CAAN might fail to put Nepal in the EASC agenda during the latter’s meeting in March due to lack of clean chit from ICAO on the SSCs.
In a briefing at the International Relation and Labour Committee of the Legislature-Parliament a few days ago, CAAN Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman had also informed about the EU’s latest take that the agency would await the findings of ICAO’s final audit to review its position on Nepal.
Though CAAN officials refuse to share details of what transpired during the conference that took place in the EU country office on September 24, one of the six delegates who took part in the video chat said EU officials criticised CAAN for disclosing the agenda of the video conference to this daily. “It took nearly an hour for us to clarify how the content of an email written to CAAN by the EU-seconded national expert Oyvind Hallquist was disclosed to THT,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Respecting the EU’s concerns, CAAN officials decided not to share further the developments related to EU with the media, he added. But, sources claimed the EU team couldn’t agree to schedule even a follow-up technical meeting at a date close to the air safety committee meeting, citing CAAN’s slow progress in taking corrective measures to ensure air safety.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has no information about the video conference between CAAN and EU, said joint secretary Suresh Acharya, who heads the aviation industry division. He accused CAAN of not cooperating.
EU aviation teams have visited Nepal seven times after banning Nepali airlines from flying to or within the 28-nation EU bloc last December.
• Personnel licensing
• Licensing of air carriers
• Oversight of air operations
• Recommendations of accident
• Airworthiness and flight safety
• Certification process of airline operators
• Overall capacity of CAAN