TIA operating without renewed certificate

Kathmandu, May 18

The country’s sole international airport has been operating under an expired certificate for over two weeks after the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal ‘withheld’ the renewal of the aerodrome certificate to Tribhuvan International Airport.

According to the official aeronautical information publication-Nepal, the aerodrome certificate with a two-year validity expired on May 2.

The prevailing standard of the International Civil Aviation Organisation on aerodromes requires an aerodrome allowing international operations to possess an aerodrome certificate that signifies to aircraft operators and other organisations operating at the aerodrome, that at the time of certification, the aerodrome has met the specifications regarding the facility and its operation, and that it has, according to the certifying authority, the capability to maintain these specifications for the period of validity of the certificate.

CAAN, the sole aerodrome as well as air navigation services provider continues to shortchange its customers airlines as well as the travelling public with its persistent double standards.

This has once again become evident from the expiry of the aerodrome certificate, stakeholders commented.

If the air operator certificate of an airline expires, the airline will have had to shut operations immediately, but with CAAN, it is business as usual, an airline executive told this daily.

According to him, the expiry of the certificate that is issued by CAAN’s Director General indicates the TIA is simply incapable of complying with international norms for safety and efficiency.

“Now nobody wants to antagonise the TIA management by raising the question of its expired aerodrome certificate, as it brings about swift retribution in many forms. However, an incident or accident in this scenario would immensely hurt Nepal’s international aviation standings,” another international airlines station manager commented.

The lack of safety-culture is clearly evident in this case even when CAAN has just one international airport at hand, he added.

The instance of still unremoved rubber deposits at the southern end of the sole international runway, despite a report in The Himalayan Times, points to an insidious culture of rewarding incompetence and indifference among the CAAN staff, who enjoy permanent jobs and careers with a ballistic trajectory without formal aviation qualifications, the station manager added.

“On the lines of granting exemptions to airline operators after carrying out necessary safety assessment, this particular instance of non-compliance by the sole aerodrome services provider seeks issuance of necessary exemption from the national aviation regulatory authority,” an airline pilot explained.

Besides, the details of the exemption have to be published as per aviation regulations.

Frequent political intervention based on party affiliations in CAAN’s day-to-day functioning has brought in this sad scenario, a CAAN director admitted.

“The management of key multi-million dollar projects also is far from satisfactory, as evident from the baggage conveyor fiasco at TIA, and this points to abysmal project management expertise with both CAAN engineers and consultants selected by the Asian Development Bank itself.”

According to him, the non-renewal of the aerodrome certificate to TIA, whether unintentional or out of genuine safety concerns, also points to a deeper malaise in the engineering profession in CAAN.

The desertion of the regulatory department for aerodromes within CAAN by senior civil engineers for greener pastures projects such as Pokhara, Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project-TIA, with no accompanying liability, is the root cause of the ills prevailing in CAAN now, he added.

TIA’s general manager Devanand Upadhyay, however, claimed that the renewal would be made at the earliest.

But, an official at TIA claimed that an overnight issuance of the certificate now would be counter-productive as it would undermine the rationale for its delayed renewal and only serve to reward those responsible for this unsightly mess.

“Besides, the renewal of the aerodrome certificate to Tribhuvan International Airport, without an adequately staffed regulatory department, will only make a mockery of the prevailing state of safety oversight by CAAN,” he added.