OECS engages FAA to restore Category 1 aviation system rating

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Authority of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met on Sunday, May 10 to review the recent announcement by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it has assigned a Category 2 rating to OECS Member States under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme.

The FAA safety rating for Eastern Caribbean Aviation System said, “ the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been assigned a Category 2 rating because it does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.

“A Category 2 IASA rating means that laws or regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that civil aviation authorities are deficient in one or more areas, including technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, inspection procedures or resolution of safety concerns. The OECS’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States. They will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.” 

The OCES Authority noted with appreciation that the FAA clearly stated in its announcement that “OECS carriers can continue existing service to the United States”. Therefore, as a practical matter, aircrafts that now fly to US airports, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, are not affected.

The heads of government expressed their keen intention to work closely with the FAA in resolving the issues that would restore the OECS’ Category 1 status that has been in place since 2007.

They recalled that, following a comprehensive review last year of the regional Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), the FAA had made 14 key recommendations to ensure the maintenance of Category 1 standing.  Eleven of the recommendations were fully addressed, leaving only three which required legislative changes.

The three remaining recommendations made by the US FAA are being addressed.

They also observed that the change in status to Category 2 does not affect the day-to-day running of regional airports and airlines, and that other outstanding matters, affecting ECCAA, are regulatory issues and do not call into question the safety and security of the region’s airports and airlines.

The heads of government expressed their determination to regain Category 1 status for the OECS to gain new, direct, and profitable routes into the United States for OECS air carriers. In this regard, they instructed that the Board of Directors of ECCAA and other relevant government agencies should immediately engage the FAA to satisfy the requirements it has identified.

The FAA statement said: “To maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.”

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