EC ban on Nepali carriers may stay due to NA crashThe European Commission is most likely to continue its operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union (EU) against Nepali carriers
On Dec 5, 2013, the EC had for the first time put Nepal in the EU air safety list as it found Nepal wanting in its ability to oversee safety issues.
However, it had said that they could take positive decisions in the future if things keep moving in the right direction or if Nepal was able to address the air safety concerns. Following which, a team of experts from the EC conducted on-site inspections of Nepal’s civil aviation in the first week of February to reassess whether Nepal should be kept on the air safety list for a longer term.
“The crash of an NA Twin Otter in Arghakhanchi, however, has shattered all hopes of being taken out of the safety list,” said a highly placed source at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan).
Despite several efforts made by Caan to satisfy the EC’s concerns, the Feb 16 crash had created a direct negative impact with respect to Nepal’s failure to provide safe passenger travel. “The latest crash also shows that Caan has not been able to prove that it has been able to do its job well,” said the source.
Five fatal accidents have occurred in Nepal over a period of two years between August 2010 and September 2012. In addition, three more accidents took place in 2013.
“The Safety Committee Meeting of the EC is scheduled to be held on March 25-27 at its headquarters Brussels, and it is most likely to continue the ban,” said the high-ranking official who did not want to be named. Caan officials were supposed to be invited to Brussels by the last week of February as a prelude to lifting the ban before the safety committee meeting. “But, Caan has not received the invitation yet,” said the source. “This also shows that the EC is not thinking of lifting the ban immediately.” EC’s experts had identified a significant safety concern with respect to the ability of Caan to properly oversee its airlines or the operation procedures during their visit to Nepal. After the completion of an on-site inspection, the team had also pledged Caan for providing an exact reason on why Nepal has frequent crashes.
Likewise, the United Nations (UN) aviation watchdog has grave concerns about Nepal’s air safety, and has placed it among the 12 worst performing nations. They are Botswana, Kazakhstan, Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Lebanon, Malawi and Papua New Guinea, according to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit report. Nepal has been red-flagged on “operations” among the eight critical elements-legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services and aerodromes-which ICAO considers are essential for a country to have effective air safety. “In August 2013, ICAO has identified a significant safety concern with respect to the ability of Nepal to properly oversee its airlines (air operators) under its jurisdictions,” said the ICAO’s audit report. Nepal’s rate of non-compliance on the operations front is 51.69 percent compared to the global average of 66.04 percent.
Although the full audit report is yet to be produced, Caan has said that Nepal’s rate of non-compliance with the eight areas audited by ICAO Nepal’s non-compliance rate with ICAO standards has declined 12 percent to 45 percent in 2013.
In 2009, it was 57 percent compared to the world average of 41 percent. The global figure had dropped to 39 percent in 2013.