Ugandan Parliament approves Civil Aviation law

Ugandan Parliament approves Civil Aviation law

Summary:

  • Parliament swiftly approved the Civil Aviation Amendment Act, 2023, in Uganda, aiming to address deficiencies revealed by a recent audit. The country is urgently working to meet safety and security standards for the ongoing Universal Security Audit Programme.

On February 1, Parliament swiftly approved the Civil Aviation Amendment Act, 2023, just a day after its presentation.

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Uganda is currently racing against the clock to fulfill the prerequisites for an ongoing safety and security audit of its aviation sector, encompassing Entebbe International Airport and Uganda Airlines.

In an effort to position Uganda Airlines as a regional hub, the Minister for Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala, emphasized the need to adhere to international standards. He stated, “We are addressing gaps that could impact the ongoing audit. Our aim is to have everything in place.”

The country is presently undergoing the Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP), designed to assess Uganda’s compliance with safety and security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Uganda is a signatory to ICAO, a United Nations agency responsible for developing policies, standards, and conducting compliance audits.

The enactment of the new law aims to rectify various deficiencies uncovered during a previous audit, the Universal Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) by ICAO in September 2023.

General Wamala cautioned that any delay in enacting the law could expose Uganda’s aviation sector, including Uganda Airlines, to international reputational damage. He explained, “Identified gaps in the Civil Aviation Act, if not addressed, could lead to adverse audit findings, potentially declaring a significant safety concern for Uganda.”

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He further warned that a significant safety concern designation effectively signals to the world that it may not be safe to travel to Uganda or by air to Uganda, including on Ugandan registered aircraft.

The USOAP assesses eight key areas: legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services, and aerodromes. Auditors scrutinize entities approved by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), such as airlines, airports, and training institutions, to ensure compliance with global aviation industry requirements.

Pending presidential assent, the law establishes a specialized unit tasked with comprehensive surveillance of the aviation industry. This unit will assess safety and security-related decisions at all levels to determine their impact on aviation safety and security.

Additionally, the law outlines stringent penalties for acts of violence aboard an aircraft in flight, at an airport serving international civil aviation, destruction or damage of an air navigation facility, interference with its operations, and communication of false information endangering the safety of an aircraft in flight.

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