Aviation safety is critical to World Food Programme mission
2nd WFP Global Aviation Safety event tackles aviation safety issues.
August 24, 2010 1:30 by Rasha Reslan
Sharjah, UAE, 24 August 2010: In order to take a closer look and improve on already existing and globally accepted aviation safety standards, and identify aviation safety concerns, the World Food Programme (WFP), through its Sharjah-based Aviation Safety Unit, is organizing the 2nd Global Aviation Safety Conference (GASC) for Humanitarian Air Activities on October 11-12, 2010, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sharjah.
With air transport being the fastest way to deliver humanitarian assistance during emergencies caused either by man-made or natural disasters, aviation safety is extremely important in order to avoid any accidents that may add further stress to what may already be considered as volatile situations. More importantly, proper adherence and implementation of aviation safety standards and procedures is an integral component that allows for the speedy and efficient delivery of food and aid which is critical in saving lives.
Sponsored by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) of Sharjah and held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Civil Aviation – Sharjah International Airport, the main goals of the conference are to help improve life-saving capabilities by ensuring safe air transportation; to provide a common platform of discussion between WFP and all other global and state aviation authorities as well as air operators engaged in humanitarian air operation; to coordinate and guide safety initiatives in order to reduce risk for humanitarian air operators and humanitarian aviation; and to encourage industry and government cooperation on common safety objectives.
Supported by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE, the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US Department of Transportation and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), key organizations and individuals participating in the conference include Civil Aviation Authorities from countries in Africa, Asia, USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East and GCC; international humanitarian governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations such as ECHO, Red Cross (ICRC), MSF, MAF, and ASF; the United Nations WFP and other UN Agencies; passenger and air cargo operators and brokers; and local and regional airlines and airport authorities.
“Aviation safety is a very important issue around the world,” said Abdul Wahab Al Roomi, Director General – Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Sharjah. “As a civil aviation body, aviation safety is amongst out top priorities here at Sharjah International Airport. In fact, as a top priority, we have made a significant amount investment from our overall budget and even brought in international consultants in order to become the first airport in the UAE to have a GCAA approved Safety Management System. Such an approval was given to us only after a series of strict audit procedures by the GCAA.
“Furthermore, the Sharjah Department of Civil Aviation is committed to developing, implementing and improving appropriate strategies, management systems and processes to ensure that all our aviation activities uphold the highest level of safety performance that is required in accordance with national and international standards.
“Together with WFP’s Aviation Safety Unit which we already consider to be a part of our family here in Sharjah, we recognize the need to further enhance existing safety procedures, raise safety techniques across all facets of air operations and offer safety management workshops for both government and commercial aviation personnel.
“It is for this reason that, apart from giving our all out support to the World Food Programme’s operational needs, we have given our full support to this conference based on shared objectives and goals of further promoting aviation safety, not just in Sharjah, but in the entire global aviation industry,” Al Roomi added.
Describing the main functions of WFP’s Aviation Safety Unit, Capt. Samir Sajet, WFP’s Regional Aviation Safety Officer for Asia and the Middle East Region pointed out that among the unit’s main task is to improve the safety culture in the region by organizing international aviation safety seminars, conferences, and workshops as well as training.
“WFP Aviation provides air services on behalf of all the other United Nations agencies. We move humanitarian staff and relief items on behalf of agencies like UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO, UNHCR, and our operations are mainly in Africa, Asia and in South America,” Sajet said.
“As we implement the World Food Programme’s primary mandate to combat global hunger, the WFP Aviation’s headquarters in Rome is assisted by offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Sharjah that are dedicated to the issue of aviation safety. Because we are working in difficult environments and remote areas, we have additional safety requirements that are above international requirements.
“As such, apart from conducting safety monitoring and control of our operations, organizing conferences such as the 2nd Global Aviation Safety Conference is a crucial part of our job in order to boost aviation safety and identify main safety concerns in specific areas and how we can share such information in order to mitigate existing risks.
“We carry out such conferences in close coordination with local and international aviation authorities and other aviation-related service providers, and we are confident that the results of the discussions would greatly boost aviation safety. This would in turn enable the speedy, efficient and successful delivery humanitarian aid, as well as ensure better safety standards and procedures for the benefit of the general aviation industry,” Sajet added.
As WFP Aviation started conducting training in relation to aviation safety in 2006, the number of persons that have received such training has reached 1,000 after 291 personnel from WFP, United Nations agencies, civil aviation authorities and NGO’s attended the training courses in 2009.
In the past five years, WFP Aviation’s serious incidents rate has shown a significant downward trend, while accident rate is at an average of 0.45 per 10,000 hours flown. Full investigations and occurrence analysis is being performed the Aviation Safety Unit and recommendations are issued and then monitored for their effectiveness.
In 2009, WFP Aviation provided safe, efficient and reliable air transport services. With an average usage of 53 aircraft per month, WFP Aviation transported 323,713 passengers and 12,412 metric tons of humanitarian cargo in 44,200 flying hours to 200 destinations in 14 country operations.