FAA team to arrive in Oct to assess CAAB safety standards

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 17 Jun 2017, 00:12:33

FAA team to arrive in Oct to assess CAAB safety standards

Kamrun Nahar

A team of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the USA will arrive in Dhaka in October to review the progress made by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) in upgrading itself to the Category 1 in FAA safety ratings.

Category 1 status is necessary for airlines in other countries to operate flights to the USA. Presently, CAAB has Category 2 rating.   

FAA team to arrive in Oct to assess CAAB safety standardsThe FAA team will also provide technical assistance to Bangladesh to help achieve the status, a top CAAB official said.

"We have addressed 282 protocol questions and submitted necessary supporting documents to comply with FAA conditions. Now the FAA team will assess all these activities," CAAB Flight Safety and Regulations Director Wing Commander Chy M Ziaul Kabir told the FE recently.

He also said the progress is satisfactory.

"We requested the FAA to come in January last and they first agreed to come in February or March. But they could not come due to their busy schedule, as they have to audit so many civil aviation authorities around the world," he added.

He also said airlines without Category 1 status cannot fly to the USA. As a large number of Bangladeshi migrants live in America and travel a lot, it is important that Bangladesh should achieve the status.

India got the Category 1 status in June 2016, Mr Kabir said.

There was no category system for FAA before 1997. After introducing the new provision, the FAA advised all the countries operating flights to the USA to continue operation and take steps to comply with its safety guidelines.

Mr Kabir said Bangladesh was downgraded from Category 1 to Category 2 on safety grounds and other compliance issues, but Biman Bangladesh Airlines continued to operate its New York flights until 2006. But suddenly Biman stopped the flight operation and since then never got permission.

In 1997 and 2010, FAA advised CAAB to amend its rules and regulations as per the standard of international civil aviation organisation (ICAO), increase the number of inspectors, set eligibility standard for the post of chairman, define the job responsibility of the chairman, ensure avoiding conflict of interest if the chairman is appointed from other agencies on deputation, ensure licensing of Biman as per the ICAO standard, and increase the amount of penalty in case of violation of the aviation laws.

Mr Kabir said they have 61 members of staff in the safety department, of which 46 are consultants and 15 inspectors. Criticism is rife regarding the recruitment of consultants instead of inspectors, which is apparently a violation of FAA condition.

"FAA said that CAAB has a shortage of inspectors and we started hiring consultants immediately to fill the gap. The civil aviation act has a provision for recruiting consultants and there is no nomenclature like 'inspector' in the present law," he said.

There are eight areas for which inspectors are required. CAAB now hires both freshers and experienced aviation people as consultants and train them as inspectors, he added.

"In the new law which is expected to be passed this month, there will be provision for recruiting inspectors. Besides, the organogram is expected to be approved by this month," said Mr Kabir. By 2019, CAAB will have 228 members in the safety department.

Besides, 18 flight operations inspectors (FOIs) are needed in CAAB while only four FOIs have been working now, he added.    When contacted, aviation experts said Bangladesh never got Category 1 rating and it was ranked Category 2 in the first assessment by FAA. When Biman would operate flights to New York, it violated one of three conditions of FAA, such as changing the intermediary point from Brussels to Manchester, resulting in cancellation of Biman flight operation to New York by FAA.

"It will be difficult for the CAAB authority to satisfy the FAA team as the FAA will find that there are laws in place but they are not being enforced," said an expert wishing anonymity.

Besides, FAA may find irregularities like CAAB giving certificate of airworthiness to many aircraft which are not suitable for safe flight, he said, adding that political influence and various other factors are behind these activities.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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