THE International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has recommended the removal of Zambia from the European Union (EU) airspace ban list.
Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Christopher Yaluma said at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the recommendation follows ICAO’s coordinated validation mission, which revealed that Zambia has successfully addressed significant safety concerns.
Mr Yaluma said the ICAO recommendation has given a go ahead to the Government to engage the EU over the possible removal of Zambia on the EU airspace ban list.
“The ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) was conducted from December 12 to 18, 2012 by a team of four ICAO experts. The ICVM is a necessary onsite verification of the actual status on the ground,” he said.
“The good news is that Zambia was on January 10, 2013 reported by ICAO to have successfully resolved the significant concerns. This is a very crucial step towards the removal of Zambia from the ICAO safety watch list and subsequently from EU ban list.”
Mr Yaluma also said Government is happy with the technical assistance that EU is rendering to the country’s aviation sector under the 10th European Development Fund.
He said the contractor engaged under the programme has been onsite since January last year, and has been mandated to upgrade the aviation legal, institutional and organisational framework as well as implement training, visibility and communication activities.
Mr Yaluma also cited enhancement of Zambia’s safety and security oversight capacity, helping the Department of Civil Aviation, National Airports Corporation and the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI) to acquire modern equipment as some of the projects that the contractor has been engaged to carry out.
He also said Government is happy that the Civil Aviation Authority Act has finally come into being, which will pave way for the transformation of the Department of Civil Aviation into an autonomous Zambia Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr Yaluma said the new institution will regulate and provide effective and efficient safety oversight of the aviation sector as it will be able to attract, recruit and retain highly qualified aviation professionals and provide them tools to carry out their mandate effectively.
“With this kind of set-up, the aviation sector will be able to maintain standards and recommended practices demanded by the Convention on Civil Aviation and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
“There will be little or no cause for significant safety concern to ever be recorded against the Zambian aviation sector in future,” he said.
Mr Yaluma said an audit known as the “Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme” on the Zambian Civil Aviation Sector was conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation from January 26 to February 3, 2009 and April 4 – 9, 2009.
He said as a result of the audit, 98 findings and one significant safety concern were recorded.
Mr Yaluma said the significant safety concern was as a result of non-compliance to the five-phase air operator certification process which ICAO had introduced to ensure operators applying for the service permits complied with the international safety requirements.
He said this brought about the EU ban of Zambian registered aircraft from operating in the European space.