[Letter] Antigua Needs Own Civil Aviation Authority

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[Letter] Antigua Needs Own Civil Aviation Authority

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Dec 07, 2012

http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/opini ... ority.html

[Letter] Antigua Needs Own Civil Aviation Authority
Letter to Editor
Ann Nancy
Friday, 07 December 2012

The Editor:

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) is the regulatory body for Civil Aviation in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

It regulates aviation in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. OECS associate members Montserrat, Anguilla and the BVI, because of their UK territory status may not come under the regulatory authority of ECCAA but work closely in partnership because of the need to operate a seamless aviation network between the islands. These islands are regulated by the UKCAA’s Air Safety and Support International, ASSI.

The main duties of ECCAA are to ensure that International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regulations are enforced within the OECS, in order to ensure a safe and orderly flow of Air Traffic. ECCAA's purpose is to regulate civil aviation safety and security; develop harmonized civil aviation regulations, policies and practices by applying ICAO SARPS uniformly; establish and maintain a regulatory environment that promotes safety and efficiency in the civil aviation industry; create a secure environment for the civil aviation industry; provide technical and specialized civil aviation services; undertake and coordinate studies for ensuring the sustained development of civil aviation in the region; collaborate with national, regional and international agencies and organizations to further the development of civil aviation.

ECCAA regulates the airlines, pilots and air traffic controllers who work within the OECS region. This is carried out in conjunction with the local ministries of civil aviation within member states. In some cases ECCAA does not have direct control but acts in an indirect or advisory manner. One instance of this is the granting of permission to operate airlines and even airports within member states. These are normally signed off by the local ministers of civil aviation but under the advice of ECCAA.

ECCAA as a branch of the OECS is basically a diplomatic organization. It is funded by the OECS member states mainly through the collection of Navigational/Communication Fees (NavCom) from aircraft operating at OECS airports.

Antigua and Barbuda provides 100% of its NavCom fees to ECCAA, while all other states only provide 60% of their NavCom fees to ECCAA. It is said that at least one state provides only 40% of its NavCom fees to ECCAA.

These fees are used to repair, purchase and maintain navigational equipment such as radars, VOR’s and NDB’s. However in Antigua and Barbuda, the government tends to purchase this equipment, even providing the diesel fuel used by the auxiliary generator for the navigational equipment.

In other states, however, ECCAA seems more willing to provide funding for equipment, etc, although those states do not provide 100% of their Nav/Com fees to ECCAA.

ECCAA’s structure consists of a Board of Directors which is made up of OECS government representatives and other regional aviation experts. The Director General of ECCAA then carries out the day to day operations of ECCAA. There is also a director of finance, director of safety, director of human resources and director of ANS.

The various branches within ECCAA are headed by each director. ANS regulates Air Traffic Control and the technical division. Director of Safety deals with matters such as aircraft incidents and accident investigations.

The challenge with ECCAA is that because it is regulating the same governments it depends on for funding, conflicts of interest tend to be an issue. This is especially the case when it comes to setting up new airlines that may compete with LIAT, of which two major shareholder states are St. Vincent and Antigua. There was an incident about two years ago when the St Lucia government was at odds with ECCAA who refused to approve the operations of a St Lucian-based carrier because they planned to use Surinamese-registered aircraft.

More recently, the crash of the Montserrat aircraft in Antigua resulted in a stand-off between the Director General of ECCAA and the Minister of Aviation in Antigua, where ECCAA over-reached the Minister’s authority by causing the report on the accident to be made public. There have been further rumblings of ECCAA overreaching in the politics of aviation.

Considering that when Antigua handed over ALL of its Nav/Com fees to ECCAA was a long time ago when Antigua was the only OECS island with a jet airport that had direct flights to the US, maybe the time has come for Antigua to join Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana with the quota of flight activity to operate its own Directorate of Civil Aviation.

If this is not a consideration purely because of OECS loyalty, then Antigua as host country must seek to have ECCAA overhauled, to establish clear guidelines under which they are expected to function. Protocol is an integral part of the administration of their regulatory duties as outlined in the legislation, and the perimeters of their direct involvement in regional political and corporate affairs.

Ann Nancy

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