Nepal’s civil aviation relieves from ICAO safety tag

KATHMANDU: International Civil Aviation Organisation has formally notified Nepal that the significant safety concerns raised against Nepal’s aviation during ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission in July 2013 have been resolved.

The SSC Validation Committee meeting held yesterday in ICAO Headquarters, Montreal, decided to remove Nepal’s aviation from ICAO blacklist, Sanjiv Gautam, director general, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said during a press meet organised in Kathmandu this afternoon.

An ICAO Validation Mission made comprehensive assessment of CAAN focusing on flight operations and airworthiness, major oversight areas relating to aircraft operations, including legislation and organisation, from July 4 to 11. The mission also visited Nepal Airlines and Himalaya Airlines, two major full-fledged international operators, to verify the safety oversight capability of CAAN in airline industry.

“The mission has identified Nepal’s overall effective implementation of ICAO safety standards and associated guidance as 66 per cent, compared to the global safety benchmark of 60 per cent.” ICVM mainly assesses compliance status of applicable safety standards and recommended practices, associated procedures, guidance materials and practices adopted by ICAO, according to Rajan Pokhrel, deputy director general at CAAN.

After getting off ICAO blacklist, CAAN is all set to formally request the European Commission to review its position on Nepal’s aviation in the next safety committee meeting. The European Commission banned Nepali airlines from flying into the 27-nation bloc of the European Union, citing ICAO’s SSCs in December 2013. “Nepal needs to wait for at least four more months, as safety experts from EU member states will meet only in November to update air safety list.”

CAAN will invite a combined mission from ICAO’s regional office in October to study the country’s compliance status on other oversight areas, including personnel licensing, accident investigation, air navigation services and aerodrome and ground aid, Gautam added.

Sustainability of the progress made with assistance of ICAO, implementation of the state safety programme and institutional reform of state civil aviation system are the main challenges ahead, CAAN officials added.

Nepal had prepared and implemented corrective action plans to address findings in audit areas after an audit carried by ICAO in 2009. The overall Effective Implementation of ICAO Safety Standards was identified to be 43 per cent, compared to global average of 59 per cent, according to Pokhrel.

Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Shankar Prasad Adhikari said ICAO’s move to remove Nepal from its blacklist would have an immediate positive impact on the country’s tourism and economy.