Kathmandu, December 6
Nepal needs to separate the service provider function from the state’s aviation regulatory organisation to make the country’s aviation sector more efficient, according to former secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Talking to The Himalayan Times on the eve of International Civil Aviation Day, former ICAO head Raymond Benjamin recommended formation of two different entities one for airport and air navigation services and the other for the aviation regulatory system by splitting the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Benjamin’s suggestion comes at a time when CAAN is multi-tasking as a regulator and a service provider, while the stakeholders, including officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and CAAN are still at odds on whether or not to enact a new aviation act demarcating CAAN’s dual role.
“It’s important to form two distinct entities while there is also an ICAO policy promoting autonomy for the air navigation services provider, and its separation from the regulatory oversight function,” Benjamin, who spent more than 30 years in civil aviation sector, added.
Benjamin, who served the United Nations Aviation Agency as secretary general from 2009 to 2015, said he understood that Nepal was close to getting a clean chit from ICAO regarding significant safety concerns.
“Situation has improved considerably in Nepal’s aviation sector and the prospect of getting out of SSCs is promising,” the civil aviation expert said.
ICAO, under Benjamin’s leadership, had red-flagged the country’s aviation sector, citing non-compliance of ICAO protocols in eight critical elements, including aircraft accident investigation, leading to the European Union blacklisting Nepali airlines in 2014.
Since ICAO has been assisting CAAN in three sectors flight operations, airworthiness and personal licensing the UN aviation agency is all set to send an assessment team to Nepal next month, Benjamin, who was former executive secretary of the European Civil Aviation Conference, added.
“ICAO’s assessment mission is likely to suggest the removal of SSCs from Nepal’s aviation sector and such a move will provide a better chance to get Nepali air carriers removed from the EU blacklist,” he said. Benjamin also stressed that Nepal should abide by the ICAO stipulations, as the country has become a signatory to the Chicago Convention.
Terming aviation as the safest mode of transportation worldwide, Benjamin said Nepal had great potential of having rapid growth in its tourism economy, which is also interlinked with the aviation sector.
The aviation expert, who now works with the International Aviation Safety, a Hong Kong-based company, said his maiden visit to Nepal was aimed at searching for opportunities to assist in the country’s aviation sector. “When I was ICAO Secretary General, I had made a commitment to assist Nepal,” he recounted.
According to him, IAS aims to provide assistance to CAAN, especially in the field of training to build its capacity as well as competence of aviation officials. After holding discussion with government representatives, aviation entrepreneurs and officials, Benjamin concluded that Nepal needed to enhance the capabilities of the personnel involved in the aviation sector.
A version of this article appears in print on December 07, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.