Armenia’s air safety regulation is under fire after investigators from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) discovered shortfalls in their oversight to carriers.
The shortfalls were discovered during a visit to carriers Taron Avia and Atlantis European Airways in July this year, as part of a third-country authorisation process.
Taron Avia’s certificate was suspended as a result of the EASA findings and the carrier subsequently chose to cease operations.
The European Commission has increased its surveillance of the Civil Aviation Committee in its latest blacklist revision, although it stopped short of formally banning any Armenian airlines.
It states that EASA concluded, after its visit, that the committee had “not systematically followed the established certification process” when updating specifications for Taron Avia and Atlantis European.
“[The committee] could not provide assurances that it was systematically assessing the safety management systems, the continuing airworthiness systems, and the maintenance organisations of the air carriers that it had certified,” it adds.
“Furthermore [the committee] was lacking capacity to identify significant non-compliances with international safety standards by the air carriers.”
The Commission expressed its concerns to the Armenian committee and conducted a technical meeting with the authority in November during which the committee provided details of its plans to reorganise and undertake personnel training in order to strengthen its oversight activities.
European air safety specialists also carried out a separate hearing with the Civil Aviation Committee last month.
“[The committee] provided details about the actions taken with respect to a number of air carriers registered in Armenia, about the training for the inspectors, and its future developments, including the plans dedicated to the recruitment of new inspectors,” says the Commission
It adds that the Civil Aviation Committee was informed that it should only undertake to issue air operator’s certificates, and include aircraft on the Armenian registry, “if and when it has a full capability to oversee them”.
Armenian authorities concluded a common aviation area agreement with the European Union in 2017 and the committee pointed out that it plans convergence with the EU’s regulatory framework.
As part of follow-up work the Commission is intending to carry out an on-site assessment visit to Armenia to verify certification and oversight capabilities.
“Whereas various deficiencies identified will need rectification, they are not of a nature that would warrant the [blacklisting] of all air carriers from Armenia,” it says, adding that it will continue to monitor Armenian airlines closely through ramp inspections.