Aviation safety sector works together to respond to TC Harold

The Pacific Aviation Safety Office and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu are working together with Vanuatu’s civil aviation operators to ensure Vanuatu’s commercial chartered aircraft are meeting international airworthiness safety standards.

This is part of efforts to assist the operators as they respond to Tropical Cyclone Harold.

“PASO is currently providing technical expertise to CAAV to assist with airworthiness certificates renewals for commercial chartered operators’ aircraft that have had major maintenance carried out,” said PASO Operations Manager, Netava Waqa.

“These commercial aircraft are vital to Vanuatu’s current emergency Tropical Cyclone Harold relief response and PASO’s technical aviation safety oversight will enable the CAAV to properly assess and certify that these aircrafts can safely return to the air to help Vanuatu’s communities.”

“PASO and CAAV are cooperating to carry out meticulous inspections of aircraft operators’ maintenance records to ensure aircraft have been maintained fully in accordance with the required standards and are therefore, safe to operate to carry passengers,” said Mr. Waqa.

Vanuatu’s commercial chartered operators are a critical component of the Pacific nation’s current emergency response to the devasting impacts of Easter Sunday’s Tropical Cyclone Harold in the northern provinces of the nation.

With Vanuatu in a self-imposed COVID-19 locked down, foreign aid is restricted to the transport of emergency supplies to the capital Port Vila. The Pacific nation is relying on locally based, commercial chartered operators to reach Vanuatu’s network of small remote airports to transport emergency supplies onto impacted remote communities across the wide geographical area affected by the natural disaster.

Commercial chartered aircraft are in demand to carry out impact assessments, transport critical relief equipment and emergency supplies, and medivac retrievals of critically injured patients on behalf of the Vanuatu government, aid donors, and private citizens. Vanuatu has five commercial chartered operators which have around 20 domestic aircraft servicing the country.

“We are really pleased to support the strong work of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu to get these planes back into the skies to help Vanuatu. We are also very pleased to be able to support Vanuatu’s local operators who provide an essential service,” said PASO’s General Manager, Andrew Valentine.

“One such operator has an aircraft that was previously a victim of Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015. It was so badly damaged it was rendered unserviceable. Now this aircraft has been repaired in accordance with approved aviation standards by the operator, and CAAV and PASO are in the process of confirming its airworthiness status so the aircraft can take to the skies again.”

Mr. Valentine said, “We are appreciative of the New Zealand Government’s financial support to enable PASO to provide a highly specialised aviation technical advisor to strengthen CAAV’s efforts”.

Despite the Advisor being currently based in New Zealand due to the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, PASO has been using innovative ICT technology to continue to provide much needed regulatory services to Vanuatu. PASO is now looking to provide these services remotely to other PASO Pacific Member States.

“The Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) appreciates and acknowledges PASO management for recognising the urgent need for continued regulatory compliance during these unprecedented times brought about by COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold,” said the Director of CAAV, Jackie Langati Trief.

“We also acknowledge the New Zealand Government’s assistance to enable technical support to facilitate regulatory compliance to the aviation industry in Vanuatu.”

While the CAAV are the lead agency for air safety and security compliance in Vanuatu, it is the role of PASO to support and strengthen CAAV’s and other Pacific Member States civil aviation requirements.

PASO, which is hosted by the Republic of Vanuatu in Port Vila, was created by the 10 Member States of the PICASST treaty to provide specialized regulatory aviation safety oversight services and capacity building to their respective National Civil Aviation Authorities.

Mr. Valentine said, “Achieving compliance with required International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for aerodromes, air navigation services, airworthiness, aviation security, flight operations and personnel licencing is an absolute necessity for Pacific governments to ensure their civil aviation industry can operate safely.”

“PASO plays a critical role in delivering aviation safety and security for the Pacific,” concluded Mr. Valentine.


Photo: PASO Caption: Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu’s Airworthiness Officer, Manfred Veremaito with Pacific Aviation Safety Office’s Operations Advisor, Joseph Niel Noupat and Air Taxi Vanuatu’s Chief Engineer, Nick Barber at Port Vila Airport, Vanuatu.