Nepal | July 10, 2020

CAAN’s quirky practices put aviation safety at risk

Rajan Pokhrel
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This video grab shows Nepal Airlines Corporation Airbus A320 9N-AKX. Youtube/walkbyfeet

This video grab shows Nepal Airlines Corporation Airbus A320 9N-AKX. Youtube/walkbyfeet

Kathmandu, October 24

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and its quirky managerial practices continue to evoke surprises as this daily pursues investigation into fundamental problems plaguing the country’s aviation sector.

CAAN-issued air safety related licencing regulations for airlines specifically require adherence to training programs for each individual involved in aircraft operations, besides subjecting the flight crew to regular proficiency check for upholding safety.

The story, however, is different when it comes to training and retaining its own staff in safety-sensitive positions those involved in providing air traffic control services, maintenance of air traffic control equipment and aerodrome operations.

There are myriad of instances of training received by CAAN employees under Korean fellowships going to waste, whereby staff trained in airport and terminal operations as well as aviation security under fellowships at Korea’s Incheon Aviation Academy chose to accept other lucrative positions soon after completion of their training.

While the Incheon International Airport is renowned for its efficiency and highly professional staff, the Nepali alumni of its academy are more efficient at deserting their positions for which they were first trained managing and operating the terminal in line with the best practices at IIA leaving the stakeholders to worry about essential passenger facilities, a CAAN source revealed.

The story is the same when it comes to training at the Singapore aviation academy, where in the past decade countless expensive training have been attended by CAAN employees in the areas of aircraft accident investigation, safety management systems, as well as safety oversight inspector’s course.

With this volume of aviation safety expertise, Nepal should have breezed through safety audit of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and improved the level of safety long ago, but Nepal still continues to struggle with never ending series of accidents and ongoing airport-related fiascos.

On the one hand, the human resources development aspect of the CAAN has not been audited for efficacy, and on the other, though the CAAN boasts of an HR department, its functions have been usurped by an extra-organisational ‘nominations committee’ comprising 12th level deputy director generals presiding the foreign nominations to get themselves their fair share of pie, a senior CAAN director revealed.

Rarely does a nominations committee meeting conclude without nominating at least one of the deputy director generals, said the Director on condition of anonymity. In case the DDGs fail to have their own names cleared, they then insist on the inclusion of their panel members based first on union and then on professional affiliations, he added.

Worryingly, under the garb of secrecy, the consent of concerned department under whose jurisdiction the foreign trip falls is never formally sought and as a result the department is never accountable when the training fails to deliver the intended results.


A version of this article appears in print on October 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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