A meeting of the East African civil aviation regulators took place last week in Arusha, with observers from the European Union, Federal Aviation Authority (from the United States) and the World Bank. Several other Eastern and Central African regulatory bodies had also been invited and were in attendance.
One of the key agenda items was aviation safety, a matter of concern to the public and also some of the regulatory bodies in the region that suffered of late a spate of light aircraft crashes. Aviation on the African continent suffers of a nearly 5 percent accident margin, based on a million flights, while global average stands around 0.8 percent. This affects potentially a rich tourism industry across the continent and all efforts need to be made to reduce this margin to global average.
The meeting comes hot on the heels of the Kenyan aviation fraternity, and, in particular, members of general aviation and light aircraft charter and scheduled operators, dismissing the gazetted new regulations by the Kenya Civll Aviation Authority as “fundamentally flawed” and subsequently rubbished by the aviators.
The stakeholders also categorically dismissed the notion of consultations as a mere “gimmick,” and accused the regulators of bad faith and welshing on verbal commitments made to the private sector.
The meeting in Arusha was largely ignored and boycotted by the Kenyan aviators from the general aviation and charter sectors to express their misgivings over the flawed process. As one aviator from Wilson Airport in Nairobi puts it: “We hope the FAA as main paymaster realizes that not all is well when they see our absence. We participated in the past and this was then portrayed as consensus, which it was not. Several promises were broken by the regulators, like halting disputed items from becoming regulations, introducing a fast track arbitration mechanism, or bringing an ombudsman into play, and the regulator’s attitude too is bad.
“How can a high ranking official tell us to comply or pack up and go when they went back on their own promises? It is very disrespectful and we interpret it as open arrogance. We are not being used again as window dresses.
“Our KCAA representative will deliver a very clear message to the overseas participants in Arusha to let them know what is really going on’ and that they have been duped to belief only what the regulators want them to know, but not the entire truth.”
A court decision on the legality of the new regulation took place on August 13.
It was also established that no representative of the Uganda Association of Air Operators had received an invitation to participate in the event, again supporting earlier suggestions that honest and meaningful participation of the private sector did not feature in the minds of the regulators and that the much hyped public private partnership was dead in the water.