Thursday August 17 2017

CAA clarified, but did not ‘condemn’ ICAO report

One of the defunct Uganda Airlines aeroplanes in the skies. Government is in the process of restoring the lost glory of the airline.


By Vianney M Luggya

We noted with concern the headline ‘CAA upset over Uganda’s negative air safety rating’ in the Daily Monitor of August 10. The detailed explanation of Uganda’s performance in relation to Effective Implementation of safety standards arising out of the 2014 International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) was unfortunately misconstrued as dissatisfaction with the ICAO website report, which was not the case.

While the story captured part of the explanation in the main body, there was misinterpretation of the explanation manifested in a lead statement to the effect that ‘CAA has rejected a critical UN report on safety standards’.

The article goes on to wrongly state that ‘CAA officials have condemned the report and questioned the veracity of the ICVM audit’. These are strong and incorrect statements that ought to be clarified. We certainly could not “reject” nor “condemn” a report by an international body that oversees our operations.

The explanation we made was in response to the article’s author making reference to an excerpt from the ICAO May 2017 website report to the global community on safety issues, which was meant for appreciation of existing challenges. The ICAO web report had, among others, mentioned countries that scored above the global average of 64.7 per cent in relation to Effective Implementation of safety standards based on audits that had been conducted up to May 2017. CAA only offer an explanation aimed at creating understanding that the scores should not be interpreted as being based on a pass mark for passing or failure as follows:

Uganda scored 61.64 per cent in relation to effective implementation of ICAO’s Safety standards in the ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) in an audit carried out in June 2014.

In the last three years since Uganda was last audited, a lot has been accomplished and several milestones reached in the areas of safety compliance, which would positively improve Uganda’s performance if ICAO was to review Uganda’s status of Effective Implementation in 2017, the reporting period of the safety report.

For instance, we have promulgated a number of safety regulations and various steps taken towards amendment of the CAA Act, which is currently before Parliament. These were some of the safety challenges raised during the 2014 audit and had an effect on Uganda’s score.

ICAO has since undertaken various safety audits in other countries and some of the States mentioned in the May 2017 safety report were either audited in 2016 or early 2017. The only ICAO audit that Uganda underwent in 2017 was the Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) in June 2017 and this is different from a safety audit.

While the official results for the security audit are yet to be formally released, provisional results indicate an excellent performance by Uganda.

Of particular significance in relation to the 2014 safety audit was the fact that Uganda’s score of 61.64 per cent was way above the African States average of 44.86 per cent and the EAC partner states average of 48.17 per cent.

Furthermore, Uganda’s score was above the 60 per cent Effective Implementation Safety Target for African states set at the African Ministerial Conference held in Abuja in 2012 (dubbed the Abuja 2012 Declaration). Uganda was among the 22 out of 48 African states that met the Safety Target.

More importantly, there was no Significant Safety Concern (SSC) registered in relation to the audit on Uganda. A Significant Safety Concern refers to serious breach of safety standards and can ultimately lead to several airlines shunning the airspace of that particular country. ICAO’s desire is for States to have an Effective Implementation of 100 per cent. However, no State has attained this as yet.

The CAA explanation was sought by the author and was only meant to throw more light on how issues of safety are looked at globally and on the continent so as to correct the impression that Uganda was not doing well in relation to safety matters. The explanation was in no way meant to “condemn” or “reject” the ICAO report as was insinuated in the article. There would even be no need to do so as the website publication alluded to was not in any way addressed to Uganda.

Uganda had already received a specific report on the country’s performance in 2014 and duly responded with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), which is already being implemented.

Mr Luggya is the Ag manager public affairs,
Civil Aviation Authority.