Aviation Act under review to return Guyana to category one ranking

Guyana’s Civil Aviation Act is being reviewed as authorities are working towards having the country’s category two ranking reverted to category one.

In an interview with Guyana Times, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director General Zulfikar Mohamed said the entity is in the process of raising its standards through the revision of laws and regulations governing the industry as well as employing flight operations inspectors.

At the launch of phase two of the Ogle Airport Inc (OAI) expansion project, concerns were raised by the airport’s chairman Michael Correia about Guyana’s air transport system operating at a category two ranking as opposed to a category one ranking as it did in previous years. He charged government to try its utmost to ensure that the country returns to a category one ranking.

However, the issue is not as simple as it may seem. Mohamed told Guyana Times that “the state of Guyana has an obligation to meet the requirements of the international civil aviation authority”. He noted that once the requirements are met, Guyana would be on its way to a category one ranking following an audit by the respective entities, like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS).’,’

The director general added that checks are made to assess the ability of the state’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to oversee the aviation industry in the country. There are several criteria that must be met before full certification or accreditation is given. As it is, Guyanese carriers cannot fly in to the United States directly, and are forced to lease American planes to enter that country.

Guyana’s category one status dates back to the days of the Guyana Airways Corporation. Guyana Airways was the national airline of Guyana from 1973 to 2001. During this period, it operated services to destinations throughout the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada. It was declared insolvent in 2001. The FAA established two ratings for the status of countries at the time of its assessments. Those categories are category one, which means that the country in question complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. Under that category, it has been said that the country’s CAA has been assessed by the FAA inspectors and has been found to licence and oversee air carriers in accordance with ICAO aviation safety standards.

A category two ranking is applied to countries that do not comply with ICAO standards. It means that the FAA would have assessed the country’s CAA and determined that it does not provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards established by the ICAO.

This publication understands that a category two rating is applied if one or more deficiencies are identified by the entity conducting the audit: If the country lacks laws or regulations necessary to support the certification and oversight of air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards; the CAA lacks the technical expertise, resources, and organization to licence or oversee air carrier operations; the CAA does not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel; the CAA does not provide adequate inspector guidance to ensure enforcement of, and compliance with, minimum international standards among others.

According to Mohamed, previously Guyana had no oversight capability and would contract the UK CAA to check the country’s airworthiness.

“The state and Guyana Airways use to pay for the services of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Category one approval back then was only applicable to Guyana Airways and no other airlines.”

Despite the criteria outlined for category one ranking, the GCAA director general said, “We do have oversight capabilities and we do issue air operation certificates — we issue them to all operators.” He added that all certificates issued are honoured in the Caribbean and South America.

Mohamed added that work is progressing on the revision of the current legislation, noting that the CASSOS is assisting with that process. He said too that amendments would be made to put the act in line with the requirements of the ICAO, as the ICAO did not find major problems with the legislation.

“We are going to do it more in line with the U.S. We are going to standardize it throughout the Caribbean,” Mohamed explained. The CASSOS was launched in 2009 to assist state parties in meeting their obligations as contracting states to the Chicago Convention (IACO) by achieving and maintaining full compliance with that organization’s standards and recommended practices.

It also serves to promote the development and harmonization of civil aviation regulations, standards, practices, and procedures among member states.

Meanwhile, Mohamed noted that employing flight operations personnel has proven difficult for the entity thus far. He told this publication that there have been advertisements of vacancies for a number of years, but the availability of persons skilled in that area is limited. He noted that pilots can carry out the functions, but not many are willing to be confined to an office.

Source: Guyana Times | By Ariana Gordon