This move by the FAA falls on the heels of an intervention by the international organisation in 2019, which sought to improve the internal functioning of the ECCAA. Following a comprehensive review of the regional Civil Aviation Authority, the FAA produced a list of fourteen (14) key recommendations – many of which were administrative – to ensure the maintenance of Category 1 standing.
Of the fourteen (14) recommendations outlined by the FAA, the ECCAA was able to quickly address and implement eleven (11) of the suggested adjustments. The remaining three (3) suggestions required legislative changes from each Member State and, although underway, were not yet completed at the time of this recent assessment.
The OECS Authority wished to clarify that the outstanding matters still to be addressed by the ECCAA are regulatory issues and do not call into question the safety and security of the region’s airports and airlines.
It is also important to note that this change in status will not affect the day-to-day running of regional airports and airlines.
In spite of this, however, OECS Heads of Government were keen to regain the region’s Category 1 standing in the shortest possible timeframe.
The Meeting took several decisions to this end, inter alia:
- Sustainable Financing of the ECCAA
- Resolution of Outstanding Regulatory Matters
- Administrative and Operational Strengthening of the ECCAA
- Joint Strategic Diplomatic Outreach
(A) SUSTAINABLE FINANCING OF THE ECCAA
The Authority discussed the financial obligations of Member States to the ECCAA and agreed to settle all arrears to the institution and to keep payments current. Heads of Government considered the recommendation to adopt the payment model of Antigua and Barbuda – a dedicated assignment of airport or other fees towards this subvention payment.
(B) RESOLUTION OF OUTSTANDING REGULATORY MATTERS
OECS Heads committed to move expeditiously to resolve the three (3) outstanding regulatory issues as outlined by the FAA assessment, namely:
- The completion of promulgations on Civil Aviation Safety Oversight regulations by all Member States and the gazetting of the same;
- The passage of legislation regarding Article 83bis to the Chicago Convention in the respective Member States; and
- The amendment of legislation that empowers the ECCAA Director General to develop, issue, and revise operating regulations.
The Meeting mandated that the OECS Commission serve as the implementing body on these matters to ensure that resolution is timely and Heads are continuously informed on the progress.
(C) ADMINISTRATIVE AND OPERATIONAL STRENGTHENING OF THE ECCAA
Heads of Government critically examined the structure and capacity of the ECCAA with a view to ensuring the institution can fulfill its mandate. An offer by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to provide training and an organisational and structural review of the institution was once again discussed and unanimously endorsed by Heads.
The Meeting also deliberated on the appointment of representatives to the ECCAA Board of Directors and committed to acting speedily in the selection of candidates. Heads further considered the matter of succession planning.
(D) JOINT STRATEGIC DIPLOMATIC OUTREACH
The Authority agreed to the implementation of a diplomatic démarche in Washington to ensure an ongoing dialogue with the FAA and to facilitate a deeper understanding of the nuances within the organisation. Sir Ronald Sanders, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the Organisation of American States (OAS), will head the diplomatic mission with support from strategic private individuals.
Heads of Government and Representatives of Government in attendance were:
- Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
- Dr. the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica;
- Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Grenada (representing the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell);
- Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia;
- Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis; and
- Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS, and the following Commissioners were also in attendance:
- Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Commissioner to the OECS for Antigua and Barbuda;
- Ambassador Felix Gregoire, Commissioner to the OECS for the Commonwealth of Dominica;
- Ms. Cathisha Williams, Commissioner to the OECS for Grenada; and
- Ambassador Elma Gene Isaac, Commissioner to the OECS for Saint Lucia.
Other Members of Delegation in attendance were:
- Honourable Mark Brantley, Premier and Minister of Tourism, Nevis;
- Mr. Donald McPhail, Director General of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority;
- Mr. Bardouille, Interim Chair of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority;
- Honourable Denise Charles, Minister of Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives, Commonwealth of Dominica; and
- H. E. Sir Ronald Sanders, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS.
About the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority:
The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) evolved from the Directorate of Civil Aviation - Eastern Caribbean States, which may be considered as one of the oldest, if not the oldest institution in the Eastern Caribbean region. From inception, the Directorate was seen as a vehicle for facilitating a collective and uniformed approach to Civil Aviation matters affecting the then Windward and Leeward Islands, which now comprise islands from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) grouping, namely Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and te Grenadines.
About the Federal Aviation Administration:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation in that nation as well as over its surrounding international waters. Its powers include the construction and operation of airports, air traffic management, the certification of personnel and aircraft, and the protection of U.S. assets during the launch or re-entry of commercial space vehicles. Powers over neighboring international waters were delegated to the FAA by authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
What is the main difference between the FAA’s Category 1 and Category 2 status?
The FAA has established two ratings for the status of countries at the time of the assessment: does comply with ICAO standards, and does not comply with ICAO standards.
They are defined as follows:
- Category 1, Does Comply with ICAO Standards: A country's civil aviation authority has been assessed by FAA inspectors and has been found to license and oversee air carriers in accordance with ICAO aviation safety standards.
- Category 2, Does Not Comply with ICAO Standards: The Federal Aviation Administration assessed this country's civil aviation authority (CAA) and determined that it does not provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
*While in Category 2 status, countries that have air carriers with existing operations to the United States at the time of the assessment will be permitted to continue operations at current levels under heightened FAA surveillance. Expansion or changes in services to the United States by such carriers are not permitted while in category 2, although new services will be permitted if operated using aircraft wet-leased from a duly authorized and properly supervised U.S. carrier or a foreign air carrier from a category 1 country that is authorized to serve the United States using its own aircraft.