Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority in full control, as it cruises across challenging cloudy patches: strategically placed Sudan has proven its capabilities for ensuring the safety and security of its civil aviation system, both benefitting international air navigation and proving to be a key element in the economic development of the country. Today, Sudan is ready to further enhance its participation in wider international aviation activities
I N – D E P T H
FEW SUDANESE PEOPLE ALIVE today will remember the first ever aircraft landing in Sudan in the early 30s, which raised considerable excitement. But, thankfully, some part of Sudan’s aviation history will endure, as the event is recorded in stone in Merowe, one of Sudan’s most historical cities. Statues of Apedemak or The Winged Lion of Merowe are to be found in this city, which was reputed to have been the seat of the Black Pharaohs of Egypt. They sit among the great palaces, temples and public areas of this ancient landmark. Apedemak, The Winged Lion, who was once the logo of Sudan’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation is reputed to have also adorned the palaces of majestic sovereigns who ruled over the Upper Nile — today’s Republic of Sudan — and Lower Nile.
With its legendary past of flying lions serving to only emphasise the point, Sudan has acknowledged the importance of air transport and its centrality to the development of the country and the unity of its people. Modern civil aviation was established during the colonial administration but was recognised as one key area for economic and social development shortly after the country’s independence on 1st January 1956. Back came Apedemak, the Winged Lion of Merowe, who was adopted as the logo for the emerging Directorate General of Civil Aviation, and was used for a very a long time after.
Sudan was among the first few countries in the world to introduce jet aircraft operations in the early 1960s. It did so with a simple but highly significant objective: to unite the country while maintaining safety and efficiency standards that met international requirements. The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s audits (under the Organisation’s Comprehensive Systems Approach) in December 2011 and May 2012 confirmed Sudan as one of the few states in the world to have effectively met its safety oversight obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This was the fruit of the state’s efforts to meet all safety oversight obligations and effectively implement the critical elements of a state’s safety oversight system based on international standards and recommended practices.
Over time, the country’s aviation body became known as the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA); the government agency responsible for regulating and supervising civil aviation. Their scope to grow was only heightened when the government decided to separate regulatory functions from those relating to the provision of services. This landmark came in October 2012 and it enabled the SCAA to focus on regulatory and safety matters. The door was now open for independent enterprises to provide the services required, all the while regulated and supervised by the SCAA.
Sudan as a country is committed to enhancing aviation safety internally and regionally, and has over the last four years has renewed its commitment to work diligently with all states in the region. This is reflected in the efforts and resources it has invested to enable the establishment of a Regional Safety Oversight Organisation (RSOO) comprising seven states in cooperation with the ICAO, but which has yet to materialise as the required support has not been realised. Sudan’s efforts for regional cooperation with respect to aviation safety are made in the name of better safety and development capabilities in all neighbouring states, and to further the development of regional safety oversight capabilities.
LEGISLATION AND REGULATION PROUD
All regulatory documents developed and promulgated in Sudan have been designed to reflect international requirements such as the Convention on International Civil Aviation, annexes to the Chicago Convention and ICAO guidance material. The SCAA has also developed and implemented several policies, procedures and guidance materials that enable it to ensure the effective implementation of the Standards contained in the Republic of Sudan Civil Aviation Regulations (SUCARs). Most of the guidance materials are an adaptation of relevant ICAO documents while policies, processes and procedures have also borrowed content from globally accepted best practice, and are all made available through the Flight Safety Information Exchange (FSIX) system established by the ICAO. In general, legislation and regulation governing civil aviation activities in the Republic of Sudan have been developed with the objective of encouraging national and international investment in the aviation sector in Sudan, considered one of the most liberal in Africa.
CERTIFICATION FOR AIR OPERATIONS
Currently, the SCAA has certified five air operators that are allowed to conduct both domestic and international operations, and an additional seven air operators that are certified for domestic use only, for passenger and/or cargo transportation. Taking into account the size of the country and the difficulties associated with surface transport, the SCAA and the government of Sudan are highly aware that the aviation industry in the country can accommodate far more air operators than is currently the case, at both an international and a domestic level, and thus encourage international investment in the sector as per the highly liberal investment policies of the state.
The certification and supervision of air operators in Sudan is based on national regulations that fully comply with the relevant SARPs contained in the ICAO Annexes. The processes and procedures followed are those which are recommended by the ICAO, based on the five phases that are practiced by all ICAO contracting states. The proper discharge of a state’s safety oversight responsibility demands that the SCAA certifies and approves all aviation activities in line with international requirements, and internationally accepted best practices. This certification and approval process is essentially made operational with a detailed inspection of the proposed activities, to assure compliance with international and national regulations. Thus, one of the most essential responsibilities of the SCAA is to assure the maintenance of compliance demonstrated during the certification process.
Accordingly and under the obligations of an ICAO-contracting state, and the responsibilities and accountabilities associated with its international obligations, the SCAA has developed and implemented a surveillance and inspection policy, as well as procedures and guidance material, to enable it to meet its obligations. Attracting, recruiting and most of all retaining a qualified and experienced staff base has been a core policy of the SCAA. The SCAA is very much aware of the need to maintain the competence of its staff in general, and its inspectorate staff in particular. It gives a high level of priority to the implementation of its training policy, which focuses on the maintenance and increase of knowledge and technical capabilities.
OVERCOMING EMBARGO CHALLENGES
Over the last few years Sudan has established a policy that prohibits aircrafts over 20 years old being imported to the country from direct or lease purchase. By introducing this policy, the SCAA fully recognises the problem that is faced by the Sudanese air operators’ restrictions on importing Western-built aircraft due to the embargo imposed by the United States. The embargo, as applied to aviation equipment and spare parts, has a significant impact on the safety of the global aviation system while its impact on the economy of the state is very limited. It is hoped that the United States will soon recognise the impact of its embargo on the safety of aircraft operations, and on citizens from all over the world including those of the United States.
With respect to ageing aircraft and aircraft that do not meet currently established national and international requirements, the SCAA has developed policies based on a risk assessment it conducted on such aircrafts. As a result, two types of aircraft, namely the Tupelov TU-134 and Antonov AN-12, have been prohibited from operating in Sudan since January 2014. Risk assessment of other aircraft types is also underway and appropriate decisions based on the analysis will be made this year. Among other things, the risk analysis takes into account the availability of maintenance services, the availability of modern flight equipment that is compatible with currently available space as well as ground-based air navigation equipment, training facilities and simulators.
THE KHARTOUM FIR
Established in 1946, the Khartoum Flight Information Region (FIR) covers the air space over the Republic of Sudan, South Sudan, territorial airspace of the two states and the airspace over the relevant high seas. The Khartoum FIR is considered one of the major sky corridors in Africa. This is because major air routes criss-cross it more than any other African state. As such, major ATS Routes are provided for service and effectively and efficiently controlled under the auspices of the FIR. Air Traffic Services within the Khartoum FIR are provided in accordance with relevant international requirements and documents including the Convention on International Civil Aviation and its Annexes, the Procedures for Air Navigation Services published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Regional Air Navigation Plans, relevant ICAO Assembly Resolutions and other related documents.
Air-traffic services are provided for the entire Khartoum FIR, including its territorial waters and the airspace over the high seas within Khartoum FIR. In some cases, and based on regional air navigation agreements, air traffic services are provided (under the delegated authority) in the airspace of another authority bordering the FIR. To enable it to provide effective and efficient air navigation services, the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority has purchased and installed modern control and surveillance equipment, so that today the whole of Khartoum FIR is covered by radar surveillance installed in various strategic places in the state. It has also been designed to cover the airspace of South Sudan.
AN OBLIGATION TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS
The SCAA, in cooperation and coordination with the industry, has established a task force to undertake a detailed and analytical study of accident and serious incident trends, alongside industry safety performance, taking into account national priorities and international obligations. This study will enable the SCAA to continuously monitor trends and develop a safety plan with clear key safety performance indicators and targets, the main objective of which is to resolve any safety or security-related concerns.
As part of these activities, the SCAA has developed and implemented a National Safety Programme (NSP) in line with the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in Annex 19 – Safety Management to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Regulatory requirements for service providers’ Safety Management Systems (SMS) have also been developed and promulgated and are in the implementation process by the appropriate service providers, with the assistance of the SCAA. To this end, a series of training courses have been developed and delivered to all SCAA technical staff and service providers’ staff members. SMS implementation by applicable service providers is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2016.
With the separation of the regulatory functions from the aviation service provision functions, as described previously, the SCAA structure was redefined to reflect the responsibilities and accountability of all its organs, and to also ensure simplicity without sacrificing effectiveness and efficiency. One important element to be appreciated in this reorganisation process is that the SCAA has reduced its workforce from close to 5,000 personnel across the country, to a highly streamlined and focused workforce of about 400 professionals and support staff. This has enabled the SCAA to maintain a highly qualified workforce that reflects the size and complexity of its operation.
As part of the separation of the regulatory and service provision functions, the restructured SCAA and the enterprises that have been established to provide airport-related services have adapted certain principles and ethics of good governance. These focus on areas such as the organisation’s purpose, intended outcomes for citizens and service users, effective performance in clearly defined functions and roles, and efforts to engage stakeholders and make accountability real.
THE SCAA: ON A RUNWAY TOWARDS THE HIGHEST INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
The Sudan Civil Aviation Authority is committed to continuing on its flight towards the best aviation safety and security in Sudan, and developing civil aviation activities in such a way that they continue to remain an essential and important part of the economic development of the country. Implementing an effective, efficient and sustainable safety oversight system that fully complies with international standards and recommended practices, as well as proven international best practices, is an on-going activity that is continuously updated and improved. Sudan knows that this is essential if it is to keep in-step with the modernisation of the global air transport system. It is committed to fully applying the principles of good governance that contribute to the safety and efficiency of the aviation system. Their implementation in Sudan would create a healthy atmosphere and relationship with the wider industry, as they are based on enhancing safety and promoting production. The SCAA believes that it has the duty, responsibility and accountability to ensure the safety and security of air navigation while promoting healthy economic development and growth of productivity in Sudan. In short, it believes in the balance of safety and production goals as advocated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and enshrined in its Strategic Objective for Safety.
Finally, it is important to mention that Sudan’s commitment to supporting the growth of its civil aviation system as one of the driving forces for its economic development is one of the priorities of the government. As such the SCAA is supported by all government organs able to help achieve its goals. In this endeavour, it is also important to recognize the commitment and professionalism of the SCAA’s staff who are working hard to get Sudan and its aviation industry to is destination.