Lack of autonomy poses problem for CAAB to regain Category-1 status

_By Raquib Siddiqi01 Jun, 2019 | 2014 Views|-+
Dhaka : The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) is trying to get back Category-1 status from Federal Aviation Administra-tion (FAA) of US, but with lack of autonomy, it may find to achieve the target difficult.

A highly responsible source in CAAB said there are numerous questions, needed to be answered, to satisfy FAA, to get back Category-1 status. CAAB is ready to answer those questions.

But there are also factors, which are beyond the control of CAAB. Frequent interferences by MOCAT, in the administrative affairs of CAAB as well as the question of the organisation's autonomy, are likely to assume greater importance in this regard.

The audit

According to the CAAB source, the FAA has already conducted first audit in this regard and Bangladesh has got ready for the second audit.

In 2018, CAAB requested FAA and hoped that it would agree to hold second audit by the end of that year. But that did not happen and it is still uncertain when FAA would agree to do the job.

Moreover, the all-important second audit will be preceded by, two other meetings, between CAAB and FAA. Of the two meetings, one will be held in Washington and the other in Dhaka.

So, getting back the Category-1 status seems to be not possible any time soon.

Downgradation

It may be noted that, the CAAB was downgraded after the FAA had found irregularities in its operational activities during an investigation in December 1997.

The FAA, an operating mode of the US Department of Transportation, placed CAAB into Category-2 for negligence in enforcement of civil aviation rules.

CAAB is responsible for controlling and operating HSIA and all other airports in the country.

Being a Category-2 country, no Bangladesh certified airlines can enter in airspace of the US. Biman or any other airlines from Bangladesh are not allowed to fly to the US as the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded the CAAB to Category-2.

In 2009, the country entered in Significant Security Concern (SSC) or in other words black listing by Internati-onal Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for weakness in flying safety.

The FAA, it is learnt, has demanded complete autonomy of CAAB and said that all its recruitments should be done following its own organogram and also asked the CAAB to change the present contractual recruitment system of its key officials.

Along with FAA, ICAO has also recommended providing more autonomy to CAAB by approving the new organogram, different pay scale for CAAB personnel and approval of new civil aviation law and empowerment of CAAB Chairman to frame rules.

SSC setback

In May 2009 when Bangladesh was made SSC country, the civil aviation of the country was not in good shape, due to decades of neglect and policymakers had no idea what is happening in international civil aviation. Bangladesh was in fact caught napping.

ICAO audit found that CAAB, the so-called regulatory body, couldn't function as independent entity. In many respects, it was subservient to Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (MOCAT). One could get job done by the MOCAT bypassing CAAB.

ICAO found that there was no proper documentation system of Air Operator's Certification (AOC). Inter-agency coordination was lacking. Review and approval of different manuals, procedures and checklists was absent. There was also no flight data and ground handling management system.

After suffering inexpressible indignity for little over three years, Bangladesh was able to come out from the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) list of Significant Safety Concern (SSC) countries on July 19.

Important step

It may be recalled that the process of re-organisation of CAAB started in 2012, when a project with new organogram was submitted, with appropriate manpower and updated rules and regulations. But delay in government actions delayed fruition of the CAAB effort.

Apart from submitting a new organogram, the CAAB under took manpower training, needed to increase efficiency of the organisation, as well as regain Category-1 status.

The training of the inspectors by the FAA would enable them to implement the flight safety rules and regulations properly and this would help CAAB achieve Category-1 status.

Real challenge for the civil aviation authority was to standardise and harmonise the objective of ICO, FAA and EASA. CAAB took some bold steps to develop its regulatory framework.

After coming out of the ICAO imposed significant safety concern, CAAB focused its attention to regain its Category-1 status.

Good impact

The CAAB is now working on to integrate laws, rules and regulations-old, obsolete and disconnected - concerning civil aviation that have been enacted or framed over the years and scattered in different documents.

New organogram for CAAB has been drafted to ensure sustainable development of long-term progressive qualified inspectors.

The world of aviation has changed and need constant review to keep pace with the changes.

No autonomy yet

Bangladesh is not likely to get back Category-1 status from Federal Aviation Administra-tion (FAA) of US soon, despite all the measures taken by concerned organisation. Flaws inherent in the system is to blame for this undesirable situation.

It seems that functional autonomy of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) is the key and the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (MOCAT) not yet ready to allow that autonomy.

The CAAB is yet to get its organogram due to unusual delay by MOCAT and presently authority in name only. MOCAT is frequently questioning the decisions of CAAB executives including Chairman and members.

This questioning of actions by Chairman and other top brasses of CAAB by different officials of MOCAT is frequent and one of the major evidences of CAAB's lack of autonomy and authority.

The FAA is fully opposed to this kind of practice and considers it not a favourable condition for granting Category-1 status.

It is learnt that, this (communications from MOCAT officials to CAAB top officials) finds its way to FAA teams. But MOCAT seems to be not very concerned about the impact of the actions by its officials.

Under such a situation CAAB is hoping that FAA would agree to perform second audit as soon as possible and find everything in order and satisfactory to make CAAB status Category-1 again.

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