2020 has come on the heels of Uganda winning the prestigious International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council President’s Certificate in Aviation Security. This was in recognition of an outstanding performance in the Universal Security Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) that was conducted in 2017.
The prestigious Award, received at the ICAO Assembly in September 2019 in Montreal, was in recognition of an outstanding score of 81.8%, which was above the global average of 73%. More security oversight improvements are expected in 2020, including implementation of a Computer Based Training system to ease the certification of security personnel and On-Job Training (OJT).
With the coming on board of the national airline, Uganda Airlines, more scrutiny is even expected in subsequent audits, especially the upcoming ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM), which is part of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) scheduled for July 21-28, 2019. Such audits are not only conducted on the regulatory body, but on the entire State’s aviation system and usually become more stringent when there is a national airline in operation.
Promulgation of the CAA (Amendment) Act, 2019 was a step in the right direction as part of the Corrective Action Plan for some of the weaknesses pointed out in the area of Legislation in the last safety audit conducted in 2014. The Act has strengthened the oversight mechanism and ensured effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices. It further empowered UCAA inspectors to visit air operator premises or airfields for inspections without first seeking permission from the air operators or aerodrome owners. This has gone a long way in enhancing safety.
Still in relation to legislation, the Authority is, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, in advanced stages of reviewing Safety Regulations to incorporate the latest internationally recommended amendments. It is anticipated that there will soon be migration from use of the 2014 Civil Aviation Regulations to 2019 Civil Aviation Regulations. The Aeronautical Authority had by the end of 2019 approved seven sets of Aviation Safety Regulations in the areas of Aerodromes, Air Navigation Services and Safety Management. Regulations relating to Flight Safety Standards were in final stages of review and approval.
In order to enhance service delivery in tandem with emerging technologies, the process for issuance of aircraft flight clearances and Air Services Licenses (ASLs) is being automated in line with the Air Transport Service Charter.
2020 is also going to see the introduction of Consumer Protection and Social Regulations to address issues arising from the growth of the air transport industry. The Authority will also continue to participate in ICAO’s Environmental protection programmes on Carbon Emissions and implement best practices to address climate change.
In the area of air navigation, UCAA is on course to undertake an Aerial Survey in the 65 kilometer radius within the vicinity of Entebbe International Airport to obtain Terrain and Obstacle Data. The data facilitates development of a number of air navigation applications, including the development of instrument approach and departure flight procedures (Performance Based Navigation approaches). These entail circling procedures, determination of contingency procedures for use in the event of an emergency during a missed approach or take-off and the production of aeronautical charts, among others. The aerial Survey will be followed with collection of terrain and obstacle data for the entire country. This will enhance provision of air navigation services, especially the provision of Radar Services to all flights in the Ugandan Airspace.
Significant investment has been undertaken to improve air navigation services in line with the Global and Regional Air Navigation plans, thus enabling the installation of a modern Air Traffic Control Radar (Mode-S) and Air Space Management System providing both Enroute and Approach services.
Supervision/Validation of Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) Designs will also be implemented in 2020 to enable UCAA develop internal capacity by supporting IFP personnel through the process of acquiring regulatory approval entitling them to plan, construct and publish Instrument Flight Procedures.
There is also a plan to equip the Search and Rescue (SAR) team with a digital wall map screen and SAR Planning Software to improve on the effectiveness and efficiency of service provision in the Uganda Search and Rescue Region (SRR). SAR Service is provided mainly for coordination of Search and Rescue Operations for any aircraft or vessel (civilian, private or military) in case of emergency or disappearance. This will also provide enhanced display of operation activities; improve SAR coordination activities with all stakeholders in the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) and in the field. It will ultimately reduce on manual processes in the Search and Rescue preparation activities and reporting.
The National Search and Rescue Plan was recently concluded and Regional Search and Rescue Agreements have been signed by the Partner States of the EAC.
Air Traffic Control (ATC) consoles for Entebbe and Soroti aerodromes will also be installed in 2020. The new Consoles are designed to provide Air Traffic Control personnel with improved ergonomics and comfortable workplaces. Efficient and safe ATM is highly dependent on the human-machine interface. It is therefore important that the ATM workspace facilitates maximum performance to enhance safety of air space users.
Similarly, Very High Frequency (VHF) coverage is expected to be optimized to remove blind spots and get the best out of the VHF radio coverage in the Ugandan airspace. This will guarantee more reliable communication coverage between Aircraft and Air Traffic Control Services across the country.
The other developments already in place include installation of a Terminal Operations Control Centre (TOCC) and Airport Operations Database System to support Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM). Automation of the Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) System, including implementation of electronic Aeronautical Information Publication (eAIP) is also in place.
These and similar developments in the industry are clear testimony of the fact that ‘emerging technologies and aviation safety’ will take center stage in 2020.
By Vianney M. Luggya
The author is The Manager Public Affairs Uganda Civil Aviation Authority