The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) says it is optimistic of meeting the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) technical requirements for the restoration of Ghana’s FAA Category one status by end of this year.
“The FAA is helping us work on our manuals and offering some technical support and training. I am confident that by the end of the year, we would be able to meet the requirements and regain the FAA category one status that will enable local airlines to fly from Ghana to the US if they so wish,” Simon Allotey, Director-General of the GCAA told the B&FT.
The country lost its prestigious FAA category-one status a couple of years ago and is now classified as a Category-two alongside the likes of Bangladesh and Indonesia.
The loss of the Category one status has meant that no Ghanaian registered carrier can operate flights directly between Accra and the US–a route currently serviced by Delta Airlines and South Africa Airways (SAA) which is characterised by high demand.
It also means that the country’s civil aviation regime does not meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) standard due to the lapses identified.
Given the expansion drive of indigenous carriers and other new entrants that have expressed their desire to service the Ghana-US route, regaining the FAA category one status is critical.
Africa World Airlines (AWA) currently has a fleet of five and is rapidly scaling up its operations in the West African sub-region. The airline, which currently operates domestic and regional flights—Accra-Lagos-Accra– according to officials, will start servicing the Accra-Abuja route in the coming months.
Starbow, currently operating domestic flights, has expressed the desire to start its west coast operations this year.
Goldstar Airlines is still undergoing certification for Air Operators Certificate (AOC), following the presentations of its Air Carrier’s Licence (ACL) by the GCAA. The company has expressed the desire to service the Ghana-US route.
The Federal Aviation Administration assessed Ghana’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) years ago and concluded that it did not provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The category-two rating, according to the FAA, is applied if one or more of the following deficiencies are identified: the country lacks laws or regulations necessary to support the certification and oversight of air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards; the CAA lacks the technical expertise, resources, and organisation to licence or oversee air carrier operations; and if the CAA does not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel among others.
As part of efforts to strengthen the training of aviation professionals and technical aspects of the country’s aviation sector, a declaration of intent between the government of Ghana and the US government was signed in 2015.
The Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act 2016 was also passed. The new Act incorporates certain key modern regulations governing civil aviation in the country.