FAA-lowered ranking for OECS to be discussed on Sunday by Heads of Government

by Linda Straker

  • Lowered rating for OECS region announced by US Federal Aviation Authority on Friday
  • Category 2 rating assigned because OECS not compliant with safety standards under FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment programme

Grenada’s Civil Aviation Minister, Clarice Modeste, has confirmed that the lowered rating for the OECS region announced by the US Federal Aviation Authority on Friday will be discussed in a special virtual regional meeting on Sunday, 10 May 2020 by the Heads of Government for member states.

The FAA announced on Friday, 8 May in a press release that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been assigned a Category 2 rating because it does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme.

“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, recordkeeping, 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,” explained the release.

Modeste recalls that in 2019 an assessment was done with the Antigua-based Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority which provides aviation safety oversight for OECS members Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“After that assessment, there were some recommendations that each territory had to adopt and enforce, most of which had to do with legislation or other legal mechanisms,” she said. “As you will know because these recommendations were for the region, if one territory fails all will be affected and this is something that will be discussed at the meeting on Sunday,” she said.

The cabinet of Grenada in early January 2020 approved and gazetted the Civil Aviation (Flight safety) Regulations which among other things outlines the regulations, personnel licencing; aviation training organisation and registration and marking of aircraft. It was the third statutory rules and order for 2020.

January 2020 Civil Aviation (Flight safety) Regulations

Under the IASA programme, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code-sharing arrangements with US partner airlines, and makes that information available to the public.

The assessments determine whether foreign civil aviation authorities comply with ICAO safety standards, rather than FAA regulations. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. A Category 1 rating allows air carriers from that country to establish service to the United States and carry the code of US carriers.

The FAA release said that 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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