Archive for April 12th, 2008

Blacklisted Airlines

We read a lot about accidents, especially in regions, where safety standards are low: South America, Africa and Middle Asia. But what can we do if we have to travel to these regions? Naturally a logical step is to take a look at the blacklist of airlines and try to avoid them.

But who are these blacklisted airlines? Who decides on these bans? How can they get on and off the list? Let’s take a closer look at the procedure.

FAA, EASA, ICAO, SAFA – who can see this mess through?

There are many different abbreviations when it comes to aviation safety. FAA, EASA, ICAO, SAFA – who can see this mess through? First of let’s make some order. There are levels in the hierarchy of authorities. The first level is always the National Aviation Authority in every country.

The National Civil Aviation Authorities work closest to those airlines registered in the countries. it is their responsibility to check these airlines. They know the most about them and they are the ones to give the most update and accurate information concerning their safety level. Their work is regulated by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards.

The ICAO gives directives to be applied by all National Aviation Authorities of countries that signed the so called Chicage Convention. The directives of the ICAO concern the airlines, aircrafts, technical maintenance, training, crew, etc.

There are two organisations in the EU that incorporate the National Aviation Authorities. One them is older and includes countries that are not part of the EU. It is called JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities) and it is giving over all its functions now to EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).

EASA was formed in 2003 and it works together closely with the European Commission and the European Parliament. The biggest difference between JAA and EASA is that EASA has a force of law, while JAA only harmonized the international agreements. EASA is the one that sets up the list of banned airlines from the EU, which is then published by the European Commission.

Besides this EU airlines set up a programme called SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) to control airlines registered outside the EU. SAFA carries out unexpected safety checks from time to time.

In the US the equivalent of EASA is FAA (Federal Aviation Agency). FAA is the part of the United States Department of Transportation. It is basically the National Aviation Authority of the US. However there is an interesting situation as in November 2001 (following the events of September 2001) another safety ornagisation was formed by president George Bush called TSA (Transportation Security Administration). TSA first belonged to the same US Department of Transportation, but was later moved under the Department of Homeland Security. TSA focuses more on security issues and not the safety standards of aviation.

So now that we made an order among all these abbreviations, let’s see the updated blacklist of airlines banned from the EU. It was updated and published on 11 April 2008 (yesterday).

There are 14 countries’ airlines on the list. 8 of them are African and 6 are Asian. Let’s see the top of the blacklist:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo – 54 carriers
  2. Indonesia – 49 carriers
  3. Kyrgyz Republic – 24 carriers

I hope this will help you avoid flying unsafe airlines.

By Szafi

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