Aviation safety inspectors find ANS, aerodrome services unsafe

Kathmandu, December 19

Aviation safety inspectors — personnel that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal trusts for implementing safety standards by service providers such as air carriers, aerodrome or air navigation services — leave a lot to be desired both in terms of competence as well as motivation, it has been learnt.

Inspectors for aerodromes and air navigation services fare the worst in terms of morale and commitment when compared with inspectors of air carriers. The two services are essentially a monopoly, but they continue to suffer from numerous serious deficiencies that often make headlines.

The contrast is evident when the privileges and perks for the two are compared, said safety inspectors working with the aviation regulatory body.

Airworthiness and flight operations inspectors are entitled to travel abroad at the expense of the airlines for inspection of aircraft and maintenance, approval of flight crew training simulators and observation of flight crew training and the like, they said, adding that the per diem and hotel accommodation for such inspections were coughed up by the airlines, which naturally, were unwilling to antagonise the flight safety department with regard to such ‘trivia’.

On the other hand, inspectors for aerodrome and ANS have to make do with the official CAAN rates that are meagre and don’t allow fancy hotel stays and entertainment, a senior air traffic controller confided.

“Moreover, the frequency of such outings for flight safety inspectors exceeds that of the other two many times more.”

Naturally, there are few takers for positions of aerodrome and ANS inspectors that are considered more of a punishment, as it entails antagonising one’s peers in the services, a CAAN director explained on condition of anonymity. That CAAN has not been able to depute senior civil and electrical engineers at the aerodrome safety department speaks volumes about the state of aerodrome safety oversight, and the actual state of TIA that prides itself as a certified aerodrome, he explained.

The ANS safety department has seen seven directors in as many years. This is damning testament of lack of attractiveness in a critical safety department. No wonder they choose to move on to more lucrative positions of airport chiefs at Biratnagar, Pokhara, Nepalgunj and so on.

If the position of the department chief itself is considered unattractive, one can imagine what attraction a subordinate position would hold,” another CAAN director told this daily.

Clearly, with this set-up of mock safety standardisation in the field of aerodromes and ANS, aviation safety continues to flounder with painful consequences for the country’s aviation industry, a senior executive with a private airline company said.

This, unfortunately, has escaped serious scrutiny by the stakeholders, despite having a serious deleterious effect on aviation safety, an industry insider claimed.