CURACAO Civil Aviation Authority
Curacao Civil Aviation Authority has not made significant efforts over the past several years to facilitate a change in civil aviation laws required to enable the island countries of Curacao and Sint Maarten to return to Category 1 rating needed to meet the minimum international standards in civil aviation safety.
When the new aviation company AVA Airways announced their intention and desire to enter into the commercial aviation environment on the Caribbean Dutch Kingdom Island Countries of Sint Maarten and Curacao. Honestly I was hoping they can fill a void in the air transportation industry. I started out both excited and enthusiastic about the prospects of them reaching their goals in the long term and getting to see if the wheels of government were turning in the right direction in the short term towards handling the delicate process of bringing AVA goal to fruition.
Having personally made inquiry and seen that the AVA group including its co founder Olivier Arrindell had done most of their homework, in lieu of aircraft purchases, such as meeting with Airbus regional representatives and aircraft certified mechanics, members of Parliaments and political parties, FAA advisors, the CCAA Director Mr. Derby and their administrators, the groups financial backers and general consultants in the field of aviation, I decided to comment on this matter to bring a certain light to this topic of interest. This critique and opinion was brought about when certain issues on the matter were presented within the public domain.
As a Sint Maartener and resident who happens to be a holder of a Department of Transportation private pilot certificate with over 1100hrs in single and multiengine land airplanes beside having flown locally and in the America's. As well as, having achieved the rank of Captain in the USAF Auxiliary "Civil Air Patrol" being qualified in the area of Search and Rescue, communications, ground and air searches (including pilot, observer and scanner)..Thus I have become familiar with the National Aviation Authority which is responsible for issuance of the Certificate of Airworthiness (standard or special airworthiness certificates), FAA policy and procedures for type certifications, pilot certification, Bi-annual pilot flight reviews, medical requirements and ect...NTSB, Dept of Transportation, everything about airports, controlled and uncontrolled airspace, policies and many other aspects of aviation or things related.
So after reading that an SOAB audit was completed, deficiencies were highlighted, fixed and amended by AVA consultants which resulting in a positive advice report from the SOAB. In that I knew, it would take more than a business plan audit to get any aircraft type to the level of being airworthy or receiving a Certificate of Airworthiness as qualified aviation technical mechanics, and Inspectors had to be available to perform the assessment of any new registration of intended use aircraft ear marked for the AVA venture. This is the first of several major problems that are evidently impacting civil aviation in the Sint Maarten and Curacao.
First and foremost AVA aircraft must be Registered (given a permanent call sign), this is the writing we see boldly written usually aft of the plane. Once registered with call sign and a registered owners name is matched to the aircraft. A document is created that will be placed and available in the aircraft at all times and produced upon request by officials representing civil or military or government agency, as well as litigators and customers with cause. Legally the AVA Airline Group has the responsibility to have its aircrafts registered. With documented proof according to ICAO mandate and ISAS regulation the CCAA is responsible to register any aircraft that has ownership domicile within its territorial domain. So registration is a compulsory task of both the owner and the local civil aviation authority (in this case CCAA). Upon the aircraft being registered it must go through a complete systemic inspection of sort by a qualified (meaning in the type certification of aircraft) aviation mechanic/ inspector who can be contractors or persons working under the employment of the Curacao Civil Aviation Authority. To be then considered airworthy to carry passengers for commence purposes whereby with positive advice result in a Certificate of Airworthiness being issued. The Director doesn't evaluate the aircraft itself, unless he is fully qualified in type and responsibly holds the nomenclature of aviation mechanic/ inspector. Today government transparency issues appear to be common policy. One tries to prevent appearance of conflict of interest. It is likely and a fact that the Director is a politically appointed position making it imperative for a person to hold a single position within the CCAA when issue of Airworthiness Certificate is in question.
The CCAA has to provide their part of this mandated responsibility. The economy of Curacao and Sint Maarten are impacted by their current inadequacy to act as the civil aviation authority. The countries that are under the responsibility of the CCAA need this boost in free market economy. . Not to mention the millions of Guilders, Dollars and Euros that won't materialize into economic revenue for these tourist driven and fragile economies of both Sint Maarten and Curacao. Now a Private entity AVA Airlines has literally shown their business plans approved to the point of needing their aircrafts, now to go through the Certificate of Airworthiness assessment and evaluation.
Many concerned citizens and travelers alike have wondered what it will take to return to the previous status of operation. Most believe the Category 1 safety rating downgrade they heard about, occurred as it relates indirectly to the attacks on the World Trade buildings and the subsequent creation and enactment of the "Patriot Act" (whose impact was felt in the civil aviation arena around the world). But the real story as I understand it is this: THE FAA QUOTES" In conducting its IASA assessment the FAA uses a standardized checklist that groups the ICAO Standards on safety oversight into eight critical elements: (1) Primary aviation legislation,(2) specific operating regulations,(3) organization structure and safety oversight function,(4) technical personnel qualification and training, (5) technical guidance, (6) certification personnel and procedures, (7) surveillance obligations and (8) resolution of safety issues. To achieve Category 1, the country must demonstrate that it meets the ICAO Standards for each of the eight elements. Category 2 means that the CAA was noncompliant in at least one critical element. The IASA assessment typically is conducted over the course of one week by a team consisting of a team leader and at least one expert in operations, maintenance, and aviation law. Each FAA expert works through the checklist with host country officials for each of the critical elements. The team looks at a representative sampling of records and processes, and it follows up with host country aviation officials if deficiencies appear. The FAA assessment focuses on the ability of the host country's aeronautical authorities to oversee the operational safety of its airlines. It does not assess the safety compliance of any particular air carrier (nor address aviation security airports, or air traffic management). Although the FAA assessment team typically visits one or more air carriers during its mission, it does so only to verify the relationship between the carrier and the country's aviation safety officials, not to assess the carrier itself. Finally, the IASA category rating applies only to services to and from the United States and to codeshare operations when the code of a U.S. air carrier is placed on a foreign carrier flight. The category ratings do not apply to a foreign carrier's domestic flights or to flights by that carrier between its homeland and a third country. The assessment team looks at the flights only to the extent that they are a reflect on the country's oversight of operations to and from the United States and to codeshare operations where a US air carrier code is placed on a flight conducted by a foreign operator" END QUOTE.
So as I was saying: The process is being held up by CCAA administrative wrangling, claims of no funding, lack of personnel, lack of specified training programs, or professional development in the areas of concern, or lack of Aviation Laws that are guiding every country in compliance at Category 1 ratings of aircraft safety. Required aviation laws are not within the Edits of Government. Since the countries sort autonomy within the Kingdom. Such laws are so vital that there lack of, led to downgrading to a Category 2 rating. The said combined are needed to recruit and bring in qualified aviation mechanics/inspectors, (whether on contract or an employable inspector) to inspect the A 320 and other newer model aircrafts. This must be done to remain in compliance to FAA, ISAS, the International Civil Aviation Org. (a United Nations Specialized Agency) However this issue prevents direct travel to any US territory by aircraft registered by the CCAA in the present and future until CCAA is operating at Category 1 rating of safety standard. It is also to protect the consumer or traveler and well as those who utilize such aircrafts. Air transportation and air safety go hand in hand. So a standard airworthiness certificate ceases to be valid when the aircraft ceases to be registered and remains valid as long as it meets its approved type design and is in a condition for safe operation, requiring it to receive maintenance, preventive maintenance, and any considerable alteration needed to meet relevant requirements and aircraft standards to remain registered by the CCAA or any other mentioned equivalent embodiments.
Since the FAA downgraded the Category rating after ISAS surveyed results were documented. Curacao and Sint Maarten Airports cost for operation of the aviation business increased significantly including ticketing costs, maintenance, service fees, handling, with marked reduction of scheduled flights in and out of these airports. The FAA made exception for Insel Airways. They continued to fly into USA airspace under stricter scrutiny and inspection upon landing. The FAA then unofficially imposed their compliance and enforcement program on the administrative Directorship of the CCAA to fix the issues of deficiency. At that time the Director of CCAA had to bring the plan of action to remediate all deficiencies according to the surveyed results and the later downgrade specifics. Clearly this plan of action must contain short term goals and a long term goal in staying in compliance at Category 1 rating .The intermediate goal is to return to Category 1 rating. The alternative is to remain at the downgraded status until such things out of compliance are returned to appropriate level.
The downgrade was consistent with the safety ratings from Category One down to Category Two. Before 10/10/10 the Netherlands Antilles held an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category One rating. After becoming individual countries according to the FAA:
I Quote: A Category Two rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority- equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters- is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.
Before 10/10/10 the IASA rating was based on ICAO standards (United Nations Specialized Agency) and not the FAA. (Here is where the Patriot Act did have influence)
So any new company or additional aircraft owned/ registered and operated from either Sint Maarten or Curacao after the downgrade to Category 2 were barred from entering flights into US airports until a return to Category 1 status for the CCAA Countries (Sint Maarten and Curacao). An exception for Insel Air was made; which was allowed to continue flights into US cities under rating Category Two with stronger scrutiny from FAA inspectors.
That brings me back to this crucial point: that CCAA is deficient in areas including, technical expertise, trained personnel, and inspection procedures. Why do I say this? They haven't been able to inspect the aircraft of the AVA GROUP. Why not? They don't have: 1. trained personal to inspect, repair, service the type of aircraft that is used in today's advanced aviation community. 2. The Aviation Laws used by those civil aviation authorities around the world to be in compliance. 3. The Curacao government has not initiated the enactment of laws that will make the both Island countries compliant with the international standard. 4. So the Directorship of CCAA should have informed the government which is responsible for the CCAA about aviation laws currently documented in model form written according to international law. 5. The Model Laws are located in FAA literature.
This downgrade issue originating from CCAA inaptness to rectify these known deficiencies, which result in a great loss of revenue by all parties... with safety concerns being paramount to aircraft certification of airworthiness, the FAA, ISAS, or ICAO will not budge from sustaining the downgrade. As this doesn't affect aircraft based in the USA or Europe transporting and doing aviation commerce between SXM or CUR. Other countries will continue to monopolize the market.
But further downturn in leadership is preventable as it must be that the expectation of the CCAA is to regulate and not to be relegated to being regulated by a foreign agency in which it should have parity. So whenever possible the two should be inter-related but separately controlled as the relationship should be of mutual respect. There should be a creation of an independent safety board to investigate accidents and incidents that take place within the jurisdiction whereby the CCAA directorship/administration position is not in clear conflict of interest, or where personal investment, or gain can be ruled out when it comes to accidents or incidents with aircraft, or criminal shootings in and around airport terminal that is owned and operated outside of the domain of CCAA and by the municipality. As previously, the current Director of CCAA was in a Directorship position with Jamaica's civil aviation authority. When American Airlines had a runway accident and four years were required to complete the investigation while the Director was on seat. American Airline authorities were concern about the length of time the JCAA took to officially document reasonable cause for the said accident. Speculatively, by here-say the results of the findings were alledged to have been documented upon the present Directors (of CCAA) departure from his post in Jamaica.
In order to be pro active I expect that the AVA group boldly support their own interests by lobbying the Parliament Ministers with documented proof of model laws found in FAA literature(that is to enable those unfamiliar with the aviation community issues) and facilitate the process of getting qualified individuals to perform mechanical maintenance, repairs, services, for all of the aircraft that they will be utilizing and to propose to leadership a way in which contract/employment can occur to enable the professional development of existing CCAA inspectors, the support of recruitment to bring in qualified individuals, scholarships to educate much needed (local) aviation mechanics, programs to create inspector level skills, utilization of aircraft manufacturer manuals, webcam training, or instruction by experts in the field for each model of aircraft and through this collaborative effort they come together with CCAA. As leadership initiatives are required in Parliament, CCAA, and AVA Airline Group alike. It is necessary, so that this is not going to be another opportunity lost due to personal differences, conflicts of interest or poor focus on what this will mean for the Island Countries of Sint Maarten and Curacao to the economies of both in the short and long term future.
The people want and need this change in law. While economist says this is impacting revenues, so the country needs change. Parliament need to know what laws to enact. The world is watching to see the stability of the two nations within the Kingdom. This is a good plan that needs to be given a positive report to promote tourism, safe and modern transportation and air travel, economic freedom from Holland, civic pride for the accomplishment, and removing of the deficiencies in the Category Two rating, so as to return to Category One again.
Private Pilot Joseph Okon dated February 19, 2015
Reference: A: MCARs Model Civil Aviation Regulations Version 2.8, Version 2.7, and Version 2.6
- Intro to the model civil aviation safety act and model regulations
- Civil aviation safety act (model law)
- Parts 1-11
B: USA Federal Register Vol 78. No. 46/ Friday March 8th 2013 rules and regulations
Title: Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Part 129 International Aviation Safety Assessment(IASA) program change
- Effective date April 8th 2013.
- For further information contact Manager of International programs and policy division(AFS-50) 1202-385-8070
- Supplementary information
- Public expectation of IASA Category Ratings
- Current IASA determinations for countries http://www.faa.gov/about/initiative/iasa.