International Civil Aviation Organization declares Congo equipment noncompliant
Congo DR, already notorious in the world of aviation for all the wrong reasons, has done it again as after a lapse of a nearly 11-year period to accomplish compliance with international standards, the
Congo DR, already notorious in the world of aviation for all the wrong reasons, has done it again as after a lapse of a nearly 11-year period to accomplish compliance with international standards, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) declared all navigational aids for domestic airports as in default and non-compliant. It is understood that all VOR and ILS equipment serving Congo’s domestic airports, is out of service, forcing airlines to fly their approach under VFR conditions which in this day and age of jet aviation is ordinarily reserved for light aircraft traffic but not for commercial jets on scheduled or non-scheduled flights.
As a result, the country’s only EU-certified airline, Korongo, announced the immediate suspension of all domestic services as of yesterday’s evening flights.
Korongo, a locally-registered airline, has Brussels Airlines as a major shareholder and complies fully with EASA standards and regulations, the only Congolese airline to do so. The following statement was availed overnight shedding more light on the situation:
In 2003 ICAO had given a moratorium to the DRC to recalibrate its equipment. 10 years later nothing has been done. RVA has therefore been forced to notify operators that all navigational aids on Congolese territory (VOR, ILS) are out of service. Thereby we can no longer operate under IFR conditions (instrument flight rules).
In accordance with the prescribed regulatory national and international guidelines are we de facto forced to suspend all of our domestic flights from tonight 5: 00 pm (yesterday, June 2, 2014).
[Our flight to] Johannesburg is not affected because the RVA has not suspended the system ILS in place on the [flight path into] Lubumbashi. We therefore maintain our flights to/departing from Johannesburg.
The RVA is in contact with ICAO to request a final grace period that would allow to [accomplishing compliance]. Given the stakes, it is obvious that Korongo Airlines and its shareholder Brussels Airlines shall make every effort to assist the DRC in the search for solutions.
Waiting for a response from ICAO, we have cancelled this evening flights ZC105/106 and tomorrow ZC103/104. [As a] precautionary measure we also closed the sale [for] flights ZC103/104 on Wednesday.
We’ll be sure to keep informed our partners and our passengers of any new development.
We are aware that we may be the only ones to take our responsibilities [seriously] but we remain convinced that the commitment of Korongo Airlines to operate in full compliance with the relevant Congolese and international [aviation safety standards] is the only way, the only one to make a difference in the interests of our passengers.
We are aware that our passengers are the first affected by this situation, we hope that the Congolese authorities will take all necessary steps to allow us a resumption of flights in complete safety and in accordance with the regulations in force.
A regular source from the airport in Goma was swift to comment on the development by saying: “The priorities of the regime in Kinshasa are clearly not focusing on such crucial infrastructure elements on which aviation depends. The system is fundamentally corrupt and the capacity of the regulators in terms of monitoring and enforcement is simply not up to international standards. Lacking qualified personnel who are well trained and well paid opens the entire system to abuse. I mince no words, this is the main reason why the record of accidents in Congo is so bad. Check tomorrow which airlines continued to fly for the motive of profit and it tells the story.”
It is understood from additional information received that Congo’s CAA until last evening continued to fly and there is no indication of flights being suspended in the morning, making Korongo’s decision all the more courageous and commendable. Clearly here is an airline which puts safety first before profits.