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“No-fly” zones, dept to investigate aviation accidents among new legislative changes

– as Civil Aviation Bill 2024 passed with bipartisan support

With International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audits on the horizon, the People’s Progressive Party- sponsored Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill 2024 received bipartisan support in the National Assembly when it was passed on Friday evening.
Public Works Minister Bishop Juan Edghill, in whose name the bill was brought, explained to the National Assembly that the purpose of bringing the amendments to the house was to make existing legislation more robust.
He explained to the House that, for instance, the current Civil Aviation Act falls short of addressing key elements of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as the Chicago Convention), which has regulated air travel since 1944.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill

“The current Act was found to be deficient in addressing Article 26 of the Chicago Convention…this amendment that we are proposing introduces a structured approach to conducting independent accident investigations, as is required by ICAO Annex 13. It establishes functional separation, autonomy, and independence from the Civil Aviation Authority,” Edghill explained.
“You can’t investigate yourself. So, if there’s an accident or an incident, there must be functional separation, independence, and autonomy from the authority for an impartial investigation to be carried out. Guyana has a responsibility under Article 26 of the Chicago Convention to conduct investigations for civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents,” Minister Edghill declared.
Edghill acknowledged that practical constraints and hindrances, including unavailability of resources, do exist. This, he noted, would be a challenge to establishing a separate independent accident investigation unit.
“The objective of this amendment is to establish a dedicated Aircraft Accident Investigation Department of the authority, separate from the regulatory functions, to ensure effective and impartial accident investigation. By doing so, Guyana should strengthen the institutional framework for conducting investigations into aviation accidents and serious incidents,” Edghill explained.

APNU MP Amanza Walton-Desir

“The next amendment that we’re asking the house to support is section 89 (1). The 2018 Act does not provide for certification of aerodromes – a requirement outlined in the ICAO Annex 14. This amendment rectifies this deficiency, enhancing safety measures for the issuance of licences, permits, and approvals for various classifications of aerodromes,” he detailed.
According to Edghill, this last amendment would allow for the certification of aerodromes and helipads, among other aviation structures. This is especially important in the context of the oil and gas industry, since helicopters play a crucial role in accessing floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels in the open seas.
“Some of our inspectors have had to travel to the place where these FPSOs are being made, or they go into jurisdictions where we have to certify them. The traffic to helidecks by helicopters is becoming more and more pronounced, and certification is important,” Edghill said.

Meanwhile, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson made it clear that the Opposition would give the bill their unwavering support. However, she also claimed credit for the very 2018 Civil Aviation Bill amendments being made.
APNU MP Amanza Walton-Desir, who formerly worked as a legal counsel in the GCAA, meanwhile joined previous speakers in praising the work of the technical staff at the authority, particularly when it comes to raising Guyana’s compliance.
“We had a compliance rate of 44 per cent, and it was through the sheer hard work and dint and commitment of the men and women of the Civil Aviation Authority that we were able to raise that level of compliance by 20 per cent, and earn Guyana recognition from ICAO for one of the most improved states in the world. So, I’m very proud of that,” she said.
The bill was eventually read a third time, and passed without amendments.
In addition to setting up a department to investigate aviation accidents and providing for the certification of aerodromes, the amendments, which total 16, include references to the creation of ‘No-fly’ zones and interception of aircraft.
According to 56(B, 2) of the Bill, “The pilot in command of any aircraft when in flight over the territory of Guyana shall comply with any marshalling signal, interception order, or manoeuvre issued by any appropriate authority of Guyana, in compliance with the rules of the Air Regulations made…in accordance with the applicable standards and recommended practices of Annex 2 of the Chicago Convention.”
There have long been reports of Venezuela conducting illegal flyovers of aircraft in Guyana’s airspace. In 2021, Guyana issued a protest note after two Venezuelan-owned Sukhoi SU 30 fighter jets flew over the Region Seven community of Eteringbang. The Venezuelan Ambassador Luis Edgardo Diaz Monclus had also been summoned to a meeting with Foreign Minister Hugh Todd.
Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela have since escalated after the Maduro Government held a referendum on December 3, 2023 purporting to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.
Following the referendum, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had announced a series of actions, including issuing identification cards to Guyanese living in Essequibo, and issuing licences for mining and other activities in Guyana’s Essequibo. (G-3)

The post “No-fly” zones, dept to investigate aviation accidents among new legislative changes appeared first on Guyana Times.

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