Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan remain on the EU Air Safety List

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The European Commission in June updated the EU Air Safety List (so-called EU blacklist) in which 13 Kyrgyz and 19 Kazakh airlines are listed among 216 airlines certified in 19 states. These airlines do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.

Kyrgyzstan’s and Kazakhstan’s airlines (with the exception of Air Astana) remain on the EU blacklist since 2006 along with Afghanistan, Indonesia (with the exception of 7 airlines), Angola, Benin, Congo, and other African countries.

All airlines certified in Zambia have been cleared from the list, along with Air Madagascar and three airlines certified in Indonesia, and most aircraft of Iran Air have been allowed to resume operations to the EU.

“The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted in December 2015. The EU Air Safety List is one of the Union’s main instruments to meet that objective,” the EC press release said. The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but it also helps affected countries improve their levels of safety.

The blacklisted airlines do not meet safety requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Kyrgyzstan has been an ICAO member since 1992.

In order to be taken off the blacklist, the state has to pass through the ICAO audit, which regulates the civil aviation. ICAO audits usually take place once every five or six years, Director of the Civil Aviation Agency of Kyrgyzstan Ermek Omuraliev said at a press conference in Bishkek. The basis audit includes such sections as primary aviation legislation, principles of civil aviation organization, aeronautical personnel licensing, operation of aircrafts, airport and ground-based air navigation services, and aircraft accident investigation.

According to the head of the Civil Aviation Agency, Kyrgyzstan has already been audited on five sections, of which three were positive. ICAO made 128 comments that need to be addressed in Kyrgyzstan. The country has to pass audit of airport and ground-based air navigation services and aircraft accident investigation.

International experts praised the new Kyrgyzstan’s Air Code entered into force this year.  The new document aims to improve the legal system governing the country’s civil aviation to bring it in line with ICAO standards.  

According to Omuraliev, if a company, regardless of the country, wants to be removed from the EU blacklist, it can be audited by the International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which is a program of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The program is designed to assess the operational management and control systems of airlines.

If IOSA results are positive, an airline can be removed from the EU blacklist, despite the country to which it belongs is still on the list. For example, Kazakhstan’s Air Astana has been successfully removed from this list despite the country and its 19 airlines still remain there.

An ICAO audit is expected in Kyrgyzstan in 2017. Omuraliev hopes that some Kyrgyz airlines will be taken off the EU Air Safety List before the end of 2017. To ensure the safety, Kyrgyzstan’s airports will be equipped with modern navigation equipment which is currently manufactured in Russia. The equipment is designed for precision landing of aircrafts and helicopters even in poor visibility conditions.

Kazakhstan is preparing to submit an application to the European Commission. Half of the Kazakh airlines have been audited so far. “If they succeed, it will give us a clear picture of the procedures to quit the blacklist,” Omuraliev added.

According to President of the Association of Aviation Enterprises of Kyrgyzstan Taalaibek Okenov, the State has not paid enough attention to the problems of civil aviation since independence, although this area is important for mountainous Kyrgyzstan where some remote areas can be reached only by air transport, especially in winter.

The fact that Kyrgyzstan has been on the EU blacklist for ten years confirms that domestic civil aviation is in a deep crisis, Kyrgyz MPs said at a Parliamentary meeting on June 28.

In Kyrgyzstan, 19 planes and two helicopters are now airworthy, Omuraliev told MPs. The aircraft register of the country includes 32 aircrafts and nine helicopters.  

During ten years, the number of ICAO comments have not reduced but even increased from 67 to 128. In order not to lose the industry, the state has to give it full attention, MPs concluded.