St Lucia opposition calls for regional collaboration to restore ECCAA Category 1 rating

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 8, downgraded the safety rating for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), to Category 2. This action summoned the regional Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) / OECS authorities meeting May 10, to which the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) advised that the government of Saint Lucia should work cooperatively with the other OECS Member States to eliminate the identified deficiencies and bring ECCAA to compliance.”

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.”

The SLP statement explained that “ECCAA provides safety oversight for the OECS Member States, in keeping with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) – primary role to provide a set of standards which regulate aviation across the world to secure the safety of air travel.”

“A Category 2 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating means that ECCAA – a body equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and/or inspection procedures; legislation; operating regulations; licensing and certification obligations; surveillance and inspection obligations; and resolution of safety concerns,” the SLP statement read.

In the light of such the SLP deems it necessary that prime minister Allen Chastanet and the minister of civil aviation Guy Joseph, should desist from their historically brash and belligerent approach to ECCAA, and adopt a more constructive and conciliatory tone for the timely resolution of this matter, further advised that;

“Saint Lucia should play a pivotal role in returning ECCAA to Category 1 status for the following reasons:

“Saint Lucia is a founding member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and; The OECS is an inter-governmental organisation which has created major institutions such as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; and of course, the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA).”

In view of the foregoing, the SLP, said, “This may require assessing the current challenges of the ECCAA, as a multi-island aviation regulator. In so doing, determine whether ECCAA’s shortcomings are related to deficiencies in legislation, financing, human resources, documentation, and areas of oversight. For example, is ECCAA’s current revenue structure appropriate to meet its expenditure needs?  Are budget constraints making it difficult to attract and retain top talent? Are the functions at ECCAA well-resourced and whether these issues need to be addressed as part of efforts to regain Category 1 status?

“Based on the experience of other countries, the estimated time frame to regain its Category 1 status, is between one and two years. The SLP is confident that the OECS grouping can regain Category 1 status within this time frame if we work assiduously and collaboratively towards this goal.”

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