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Opinion: Navigating the Challenges in Namibian Aviation

 

By: Captain Nelson Tuhafeni Kalangula

 

Aviation has dominated headlines in 2023, sparking debates, particularly on issues of racial discrimination.

Disparities in opportunities, salary gaps, mentoring, and training have been notable points of contention.

However, as we step into 2024, a different narrative unfolds.

The lack of effective governance in many government-affiliated organisations and parastatals is glaring, with every decision made seemingly followed by unfavourable consequences and inadequate explanations.

 

WHO REGULATES AVIATION?

To enhance your understanding, let me explain how it operates. We have organisations such as the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which serves as our country’s regulator and is a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a global aviation regulator.

These organisations ensure that operators comply with safety standards for passengers travelling from one destination to another.

The paramount concern is safety. ICAO oversees compliance with international regulations by all member states, while the NCAA ensures that operators adhere to all relevant regulations.

To this end, ICAO conducts audits following updates to systems or at predetermined intervals, assessing adherence to regulations, enforcement, and standards compliance.

Namibia is scheduled for an ICAO audit in March 2024, necessitating meticulous preparation due to its significance.

The last audit of this magnitude occurred in 2006, with subsequent postponements.

As the audit approaches, it’s imperative to ensure our preparedness.

Audits will encompass verifying the occupancy of all pertinent positions, confirming the safety of all airports, ensuring alignment of support structures or organisations with established standards, validating the licensing of flight schools, operators, and aircraft owners, and collectively ensuring the safety of Namibian airspace.

 

FLIGHT SCHOOLS

Flight schools play a crucial role in aviation education and training. These institutions, registered under the NCAA, train pilots, technicians, air traffic controllers, and safety officers.

While Namibia has only a handful of flight schools, mainly located at Eros Airport and Swakopmund Aerodrome, they play a vital role in shaping the aviation landscape.

 

PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF AVIATION SAFETY

Public engagement and education on aviation are vital. Feedback from the public can provide valuable insights into safety concerns, guiding improvements within the regulatory framework. Addressing discrimination within the aviation sector is paramount, ensuring that safety standards are upheld for all individuals involved.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Often, we tend to resort to blame when things go wrong. However, the signs of potential failures are usually evident, unless those in positions of authority choose to ignore them.

It is the responsibility of leaders to close the loopholes exploited by the privileged that compromise national safety protocols.

If such offences persist, it implies tolerance and accommodation, which could impact future ICAO audits.

The primary objective should be to address vulnerabilities while the system remains intact. Aviation is a pivotal sector that attracts tourists, investors, scholars, and facilitates the exchange of goods and services.

Therefore, it warrants protection and promotion, with vigilant oversight to ensure safety for all, including those who may engage in practices that jeopardise it.

Hence, it is imperative for the Ministry of Works and Transport to consistently investigate, implement internal measures, and prioritise safety in line with ICAO guidelines.

 

NB: Captain/Flight Lieutenant Nelson Tuhafeni Kalangula is a former Namibian Air Force Helicopter pilot, holder of Aviation Safety and Aircraft Accident Investigation certificates, and author.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board or The Villager and its owners.

 

Nahenda Matheus

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