Nepal flag carrier safety audit by South Korea ‘uncertain’The planned safety audit of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) by South Korea’s aviation regulator before allowing Nepal’s national flag carrier to start flights in Seoul is still up in the air with no confirmed date.
The planned safety audit of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) by South Korea’s aviation regulator before allowing Nepal’s national flag carrier to start flights in Seoul is still up in the air with no confirmed date.
On September 3, in response to NAC’s plan to conduct direct flights to Seoul, the South Korean authority had written to Nepal’s government that it would be sending an audit team for safety checks to determine whether NAC meets international standards to operate in Incheon International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world.
Three months have passed but there are no signs of inviting the audit team. The South Korean government had named an audit team led by Cho Donghyun, assistant director of flight standard division of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, to conduct the audit of Nepal’s national flag carrier.
One aviation source with knowledge of the matter told the Post that Nepal’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), has advised NAC to not invite the team immediately as its preparations are not sufficient to satisfy the auditors.
The CAAN has also internally audited NAC’s safety standards which show that most of the concerns pointed out by the regulator have been unaddressed. The audit is a regular process of any country’s aviation regulator before allowing new carriers to operate.
NAC’s Executive Chairman Madan Kharel said that they were prepared for the audit. However, he said that it was up to CAAN to invite them. As per the procedure, regulators of both countries need to sign a memorandum of understanding before the audit is conducted.
Last Sunday, NAC’s managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the corporation’s plan to expand its wings to long-haul destinations like South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan has been delayed as the European Commission (EC) has kept all Nepali carriers in the air safety list.
“As a result, South Korea has decided to conduct a safety audit of the NAC.”
The EC had put Nepal on its air safety list in December 2013 in the wake of frequent crashes in Nepal, particularly in the domestic sector.
Kansakar told lawmakers that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had removed the “significant safety concerns” (SSC) tag it had put on Nepal in July last year. However, Nepal is still under the purview of the EC.
“We don’t know why the EC is still keeping Nepal in the safety list,” he told lawmakers. “But we have been informed that EC is not happy with the Nepal government for lack of progress on making a law to split the CAAN.”
CAAN is in line to be broken up into two entities—regulator and service provider—to facilitate stringent enforcement of safety measures. ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme had also recommended that Caan be split to make the aviation sector more efficient.
Nepali airlines doesn’t know when they will be removed from the air safety list, allowing them to operate in the European and other countries. Lawmaker Dharmasila Chapagain questioned the NAC on why it has been dreaming to fly Japan, South Korea and other European countries when it is still in the air safety list of EC.