No Room for Compromise in Air Safety
Less than two weeks before the FAA lands in The Bahamas for a thorough audit of air safety regulations and practices, a former commercial pilot and leading aviation attorney said today the country must “continue to pay close attention to international requirements or face the real risk of widespread economic impact that could affect the entire nation.”
“Aviation is a highly dynamic and ever evolving industry and you cannot compartmentalize it or try to separate it from any other part of the economy,” said Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, Callenders partner and the outspoken proponent of a Bahamas International Aircraft Registry.
“We are under serious scrutiny by the FAA to meet ICAO standards and there is a lot at stake. If The Bahamas is downgraded from a Category One to a Category Two because of unfavourable FAA findings, it will affect everyone across the board, airlines, hotels, restaurants, banking, taxi drivers, rental cars, every sector of the economy. When air travel is impeded or believed to be less secure, the impact is immediate.”
Boyer-Cartwright pointed to the U.S.
“Because of budgetary constraints and the furloughing of 1500 air traffic control officers in the U.S., the impact was instantaneous — in one day, air travel became congested with hours of delays, frustration, missed business appointments, cancellations. It was so bad that Congress had to act immediately. It was the first area that was restored after sequestration. Congress did not address other affected areas — Head Start programs, Medicare — but they paid immediate attention to air travel.”
Boyer-Cartwright’s comments came today following a story in a daily newspaper quoting Civil Aviation Department Director Patrick Rolle as saying the country was well on its way to making the improvements demanded by an ICAO “Action Plan for The Bahamas” following its 2012 inspection. ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, is the overriding regulator of international civil aviation. Its report was highly critical, rebuking The Bahamas for what it called the worst aviation regime in the region. If FAA inspectors do not find improvement in key areas, The Bahamas could be downgraded from Category One to Category Two, something that could affect airlines and travel.
“When it comes to aviation, there is no compromise,” said Boyer-Cartwright. “There are good people, like Captain Patrick Rolle, who are truly committed to what they are doing.
“But we are lagging behind. It is quite sad that after 40 years of Independence, we have come such a long way but we still have such a long way to go when it comes to aviation regulation and oversight. It is one of the reasons that I have been fighting so hard to establish an international registry.
“Once an international registry is in place, there can be no turning back because we will be forced to meet and continue to uphold ICAO standards. It will be better for all of the airlines, especially the national air carrier, Bahamasair, which now faces more danger in Family Island transport, especially, than any other airline simply because of the frequency of flights. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call like this to make all of us move and move quickly and prudently.”
Diane Phillips and Associatesairline, aviation, Bahamasair, law