BD Civil Aviation Authority yet to get 'authority'

_By Raquib Siddiq16 Mar, 2019 | 2910 Views|-+
Dhaka : The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), an important regulatory body in the country, is yet to get its authority, as the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (MOCAT), is dragging feet in allowing the organisation to function without interferences.

It may be recalled that the process of re-organisation of CAAB started in 2012, when a project with new organogram was submitted, with appropriate manpower and updated rules and regulations. But delay in government actions delayed fruition of the CAAB effort.

Disregarding recommendation of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN agency for civil aviation, the government has already taken unusually long time to take decision on the proposal of CAAB to upgrade capability of the organisation, to keep pace with the global development.

It may be noted that a programme coordinator and senior aviation security adviser of ICAO while inspecting aviation security of Bangladesh in October-November 2012 examined the CAAB's proposal and recommended that "Government of Bangladesh approves as soon as possible, the structure and staffing proposal for the Aviation Security Force, including the Headquarters element".

Basic weakness

The civil aviation authority of the country was functioning on the basis of rules and regulations of commercial air transportation of 1960. In the context of present-day world, these rules and regulations turned out to be primitive and obsolete_ unsuitable for current requirements.

In 1984, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was made Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB). But the so-called authority was given no authority. So, it could not function as autonomous statutory body like similar organisations of other countries.

At the time of creation of CAAB in 1985, there was only one international airport in the country_ Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. At present international flights are being operated from Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong and Osmany International Airport in Sylhet. There are five other domestic airports in Jashore, Cox's Bazar, Saidpur, Rajshahi and Barisal where flights are registering healthy growth.

Since the creation of CAAB, air traffic movement in Bangla-desh and over flying has increased six to seven folds. In addition operational times and work at airports has increased two to three times compared to the past.

But to keep pace with the increased air traffic movement and operational time, manpower has not been increased. Due to lack of manpower corresponding to increased workload, the running of overall operational and administrative function is being hampered.

Upgrading effort

According the requirement of the international civil aviation, the CAAB initiated measures to upgrade the capability of the organisation with new organogram and manpower and replace the makeshift existing aviation security system by a professionally sound integrated one.

In February 2012, CAAB submitted a proposal with new organogram and creation of elite security force to Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (MOCAT). From existing 3,697, the manpower was proposed to increase to 13,776. After many meetings MOCAT reduced the number of manpower and fixed it to about 6,300, 2,500 more that the existing number.

It may be noted that the number of manpower under the existing organogram is 3,697. But taking into account the employee working on daily basis, Ansars, APBN members, Consultants and magistrates another 3,635 or total of 7,332 are now working for CAAB.

Regulatory framework

The government, it is learnt, decided to make two laws. One concerning the civil aviation of the country and the other, to run the civil aviation authority. In 2017, The Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority Bill was passed in Parliament aiming to upgrade the country's civil aviation to international standard. It replaced Bangladesh Civil Aviation Ordinance 1985 and fulfils the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Civil Aviation Authority got all the power to deal with the issues regarding air traffic management like providing aeronautical communication services at the civil air bases of the country, flight inspection, enquiry and rescue.

Besides, the authority is responsible to provide services to the planes crashed or damaged at any airport or air base of the country, ensure security, protect civil airways flight operation as well as ensure management of the property under the Civil Aviation Authority. The authority can realise premium, service charge, rent and royalty for using property of the authority, security fee as well as other fees subject to prior approval from the government.

The delay

The CAAB got regulatory framework in 2017, after waiting five years. The law concerning running of the authority including its manpower strength and power and functions of chairman and others is still hanging-reportedly in last stage of finalisation.

The new organogram of CAAB that was submitted to MOCAT in 2012, to make the organisation up to date, is yet to come. The proposal to reorganise CAAB came after three decades and totally changed scenario in the air transportation-both nationally and internationally. The new organogram is designed to meet the current needs as well as to keep pace with the growing and changing trend

On April 9, 2013, as per requirement of Ministry of Public Administration, the CAAB submitted TO & E detailing reasons for additional manpower, rules of appointment etc. for approval. Nearly one year later on February 10, 2014, a meeting in this regard was held at the ministry of public administration. The meeting asked CAAB to submit proposal for department wise manpower increase.

The delay in taking decision on the CAAB proposal is happening because of the number of changes that are to be made as per desire of both MOCAT and MPA. What is surprising is the demand for change is coming one at a time - a time consuming exercise indeed.

The government, it is learnt, has agreed to increase the manpower of CAAB from existing about 3,800 by another 2,500.

But as MOCAT is not really ready to relinquish its authority over CAAB, there is reservation in regard to granting full autonomy to the author as desired by FAA.

So, it is not certain the final shape and nature of the incoming law, concerning the power and function of the authority.

Rules and regulations

The CAAB worked to integrate laws, rules and regulations-old, obsolete and disconnected_ concerning civil aviation that have been enacted or framed over the years and scattered in different documents.

The task was complex and Bangladesh lacked expertise in this regard. So, CAAB completed the task with the help of a US based firm.

To ensure a good structure, law for CAAB was drafted following ICAO and FAA model.

The SSC setback

Meanwhile, in May 2009 when Bangladesh was made SSC country, the civil aviation of the country was not in good shape, due to decades of neglect and policy makers had no idea what is happening in international civil aviation. Bangladesh was in fact caught napping.

ICAO audit found that CAAB, the so-called regulatory body, couldn't function as independent entity. In many respect, it was subservient to Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (MOCAT). One could get job done by the MOCAT bypassing CAAB.

ICAO found that there was no proper documentation system of Air Operator's Certification (AOC). Inter-agency coordination was lacking. Review and approval of different manuals, procedures and checklists was absent. There was also no flight data and ground handling management systems.

After suffering inexpressible indignity for little over three years, Bangladesh was able to come out from the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) list of Significant Safety Concern (SSC) countries on 19 July, 2012.

Downgraded status

The down gradation of status of to category-2 by FAA, did not bode well for Bangladesh, which up to now has not been able to get out of the United States Federal Aviation Administration Category 2 listing due to inadequate safety standards. For this reason, national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited (Biman) cannot resume its operations in the US to date.

It may be noted that, FAA, an operating mode of the US Department of Transportation, placed CAAB into Category-2 in 1996 for negligence in enforcement of civil aviation rules. CAAB is responsible for controlling and operating HSIA and all other airports in the country.

The FAA, it is learnt, has demanded complete autonomy of CAAB and said that all its recruitments should be done following its own organogram and also asked the CAAB to change the present contractual recruitment system of its key officials.

Along with FAA, ICAO has also recommended providing more autonomy to CAAB by approving the new organogram, different pay scale for CAAB personnel and approval of new civil aviation law and empowerment of CAAB Chairman to frame rules.

Importance of aviation

Aviation contributes to economic progress, social development and environmental stewardship and sustainability is the way forward for aviation to be safe, efficient, affordable, responsive and healthy.

The mission of CAAB is to provide safe, efficient, effective and most economic Air Transport in Bangladesh. Its Vision is to be a provider of high quality Air Navigation System and services that of strategic value to Aviation Stakeholders and Industries

As Govt. delaying decision, the prospect of putting civil aviation on right track and regaining category-1 status is also getting delayed.

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