At a time when Nepal Airlines Corporation is aiming launch flights in Europe, the decision of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to remove Nepal from its Significant Safety Concern (SSC) list is significant.
According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (ICAO) a meeting of SSC Validation Committee held in ICAO headquarters in Montreal took the decision on July 20.
With frequent accidents, ICAO had included Nepal in its bad books in 2013. Commenting on the decision, CAAN Spokesperson Birendra Prasad Shrestha said that their hard works had paid off. “Now we will formally request the European Commission to review its blacklist and remove the ban on Nepali airlines to fly in its airspace,” said Shretha. “We are hopeful that the European Commission will open its airspace for Nepali airlines very soon.”
ICAO had sent a two-member audit team comprising Captain Eugene Voundri and Aeronautical Engineer Edmund Bohland in the first week of July to study aviation safety situation in Nepal. The team had audited aviation legislation, flight operations, personnel licensing and air worthiness of Nepal’s aviation sector. They had also conducted field observation of national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) along with Himalayan Airlines.
The ICAO usually conducts audits of eight elements of aviation -- primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, safety oversight functions, technical personnel qualification and training, provision of safety critical information, licensing and certification, surveillance obligations, and resolution of safety concerns.
The audit report states that Nepal succeeded to meet the ICAO standards. According to the report, Nepal’s compliance rate was 66.08 percent, higher than ICAO’s mandatory compliance rate of 60 percent.
Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), said that the ICAO’s fresh decision has opened new opportunities for Nepali airlines. “The first and difficult part was to remove the SSC tag which we have managed to do successfully. Other difficulties will end gradually,” said Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director of NAC.
NAC has already unveiled plan to fly to London, among other European destinations, after acquiring wide-body jets. It has also initiated process to acquire International Air Transport Association (IATA) membership.