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BCAA Clears Air on SkyBahamas

BCAA Director General Charles Beneby

Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) Director General Charles Beneby said the authority will not be “coerced, bullied or strong-armed” into granting an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to SkyBahamas.

Captain Beneby’s statement yesterday was a direct response to the ongoing controversy with SkyBahamas and the BCAA’s decision to ground the airline, citing that it does not hold a current AOC, which is the approval granted by the BCAA to an aircraft operator to allow for the use of an aircraft for commercial purposes. 

He added that an AOC cannot be granted until the BCAA is satisfied that the applicant possesses the necessary capabilities – operational, technical and financial, to perform the functions granted by the certificate in a safe manner, which protects the well being of the flying public.

Seeking to clear the air on the debacle, SkyBahamas Limited has been facing in recent weeks, Captain Beneby said he wanted to relay the complete message to the public as opposed to the one-sided information as related through the media by SkyBahamas CEO Captain Randy Butler. 

Captain Beneby, during yesterday’s press conference, said despite this, the BCAA sought to work with the airline’s management team. 

Captain Beneby added that one of the main reasons for the airline’s grounding is the fact that it failed to reapply for its AOC. 

According to Captain Beneby, SkyBahamas’ AOC expired on June 29, and although procedure requires resubmitting of applications 30 days prior to expiration, SkyBahamas resubmitted on June only nine days before its AOC would expire. 
“Not withstanding the lateness of that application, and being desirous of facilitating activities associated with air commerce, we commenced work on the renewal for Sky Bahamas,” Captain Beneby said. 

“Amongst other things, there were a number of issues that were discovered. We worked with Sky’s management team with a view towards resolving those issues. 

“We have made some progress, however, our activities were stymied by Sky’s refusal to allow inspectors access to the premises as is required under the regulations.” 

However, he added that despite this, inspectors still carried out their duties once they were granted access by SkyBahamas.  

“After finally being granted permission to access and of the six findings that were still outstanding we were able to resolve about half of them,” Captain Beneby said. 

“The authority is still mindful and still willing to work with SkyBahamas, not withstanding all of the things that has gone on we’re still willing to work with SkyBahamas.” 

Too, Captain Beneby held firm that SkyBahamas is not being singled out and it’s by no means an act of sabotage, no political consideration on the part of the authority, as expressed by the airlines CEO. 

He did say however, that the issuance and renewal of the AOC is a process, adding that the authority must satisfy itself that the airlines possess the capabilities to exercise the privileges of that certificate. 

According to BCAA’s Director General, SkyBahamas was denied the AOC, as there were some nine findings that were relayed to the airline to correct anomalies in a reasonable amount of time. 

“Originally, there were nine findings that were communicated to SkyBahamas officials and they were given an opportunity to work along with regulators. If the issues are not a serious safety concern,” Captain Beneby said.

“We would be inclined to give the operator an opportunity to present an action plan that would correct the anomalies in a reasonable amount of time. We attempted to do that in this case and I think we had some success. 

“This is a regulatory issue. We are continuing to work with the operator in this case.  What I can tell you, there is a requirement for an applicant for an AOC to demonstrate that they have the operational, organizational, technical and financial capabilities to do what it is they’re seeking approval to do. 

“There was a matter involving requirement management personnel that has to be addressed. There is a matter involving the currency of a pilot and a system that was intended to track the continued currency of that pilot that did not function the way that should have functioned and as a result, in our minds, it suggested that this applicant did not possess the necessary systems, safety systems to satisfy the requirement of the regulations.”

It is not our intention to create an environment in which an air operator cannot perform their functions. 

Captain Beneby acknowledged that SkyBahamas was able to address some of the issues, but there are still some remaining issues that need to be addressed if the airline is to get its certificate. 

“We have some issues right now that involve some of their documentation that we are willing to work with them to fix.

“There is one particular requirement and that is as it relates to the Organization Required Management personnel that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if SkyBahamas is going to get an AOC”, he said. 

Captain Beneby added that the BCAA has nearly 45 AOCs that is managed actively and they all have found it within themselves to be in and remain in compliance. 

He also added that the issue with SkyBahamas is “an unusual set of events”. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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