While European passenger and cargo airlines adhere to the legally prescribed safety regulations, this looks significantly different in other parts of the world, specifically in Pakistan and some parts of Africa. There, the controllers have unveiled horrifying safety violations. Some of them were committed or at least tolerated by state authorities and regulators. The list of carriers that are subject to an operating ban within the EU, is published in the Journal of the European Union.
The list does not name any EU airline where safety deficiencies have been identified. The only exception is Armenia, though the country is not part of the block of 27. There, Brussels’ safety controllers spotted serious shortcomings during an on-site check in February 2020, which have not been eliminated as demanded. Consequently, Armenian airlines remain on the EU’s no-fly list.
The Southeast Asian country continues to be a major problem when it comes to aviation safety issues. Two carriers are on the EU blacklist and remain there: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and Vision Air. However, the main culprit permanently violating security and safety rules is the regulator, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA). “A high number of pilot licenses, issued by the PCAA, were obtained by fraudulent means,” admits Islamabad’s Federal Minister for Aviation, the EU Journal cites. In plain language: pilots are sitting in the cockpits of Pakistani airlines with little or no flying qualifications. This is an outrageous and criminal act, triggered by nepotism and corruption, and which poses a dramatic safety risk for passengers and flight attendants, alike. Furthermore, the EU Agency requested information and evidence to verify whether a similar situation is not prevalent in other domains, such as cabin crew licensing, the licensing of maintenance engineers, or the certification of air carriers.
An audit report submitted by PCAA is currently being evaluated. Lately, EU inspectors have identified signs indicating a rethink by those responsible for the country's aviation policy. “Pakistan is undergoing a major development process, including changes to its primary aviation legislation,” the experts acknowledge. That said, the EU Safety Agency will continue to engage with PCAA, despite its harsh criticism, and closely monitor any progress reported.
Despite the fact that Russian-registered aircraft are banned from European skies following the war on Ukraine, Brussels has put carrier, I Fly, on the blacklist because the airline has transferred the Irish registration into Russia’s register. This was done without consent of the owners or the Irish Aviation Authority. This no-fly decision might be a precedent since dozens of jetliners operated by Russian carriers and meanwhile re-registered by Rosaviatsia, Moscow’s Federal Air Transport Agency, belong to foreign lessors such as Avolon, BOC Aviation, or DAE Capital.
In a reaction submitted to the EU on 28APR22, the Russian Air Transport Agency (FATA) turned down all charges and spoke of “unfounded allegations of violations of international aviation standards as well as any safety concerns.”
The country with the worst safety record in civil aviation is South Sudan. “Four fatal accidents, and several other accidents and serious incidents, have occurred in South Sudan in the last four years, often involving aircraft with suspicious registration marks,” report Brussels’ controllers. The assumption is that these were military flights with old Russian cargo planes, to transport weapons quickly from one part of the country to another, where urgently needed in South Sudan’s territorial conflict with its neighbor, Sudan. Such flights, also common in other militarily contested regions of Africa, are not registered and pose a high risk to civil aviation.
In a reaction to the deficiencies claimed by the EU aviation experts, the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA), said that there are no aircraft registered in the state. However, air-operating permits to operate in South Sudan were issued to foreign registered aircraft.
In a recent hearing conducted on 18MAY22, SSCAA officials confirmed that the regulator has no intention of issuing any AOC until it has reached certification and oversight capabilities enabling it to implement and enforce the relevant international safety standards.
The EU Air Safety watchdogs concluded that particular attention should be given to South Sudan and its SSCAA. Now, the local regulator must constantly submit reports on progress made to establish a safety and security regime meeting international standards. However, if further AOCs are issued by the authorities in absence of legal certifications, the EU will impose a harsh operating banner on the carriers concerned. This could drive them out of business.
In contrast to South Sudan or Pakistan, progress has been made in Iraq, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, Brussels’ aviation safety experts conclude. They have not monitored the safety schemes of North and South American carriers and those based in Far East or Oceania.
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