2020 was a particularly busy year for the new organsiation. The start of the year was affected badly by an event on December 27 when Bek Air Fokker-100 crashed, and 12 people died. AAK was still in transition from CAC model to the new model and this event marked a watershed in ability. The UK CAA, the European Commission and European Aviation Safety all participated in supporting the State via AAK during this event and have continued to help support development.
Kazakhstan Civil Aviation Committee and Aviation Administration audited all Kazakhstan airlines after this crash based on the instructions issued by President Tokayev. The verification of issued licenses started with the aircraft operations, both passenger and cargo, that are considered of a high risk. The audit envisaged verification of technical conditions and airworthiness, quality control of all process documentations. The further focus will be on the availability of a working safety management system in airlines, as well as in airports and air navigation organizations.
To date, Aviation Administration of Kazakhstan performed 331 inspections, identified about 2,400 findings. These findings are closed are supervised and subject to follow up inspection within the set time. It should be noted that such increased number of findings is directly linked to the number of aviation inspectors involved as well as training provided by ICAO, UKCAA, and EASA.
Many of these findings are not serious safety findings but second and third level safety defenses, which while important to be implemented, are not serious safety issues. To date, Aviation Administration is staffed by 79 inspectors and 142 staff in total.
Due to failure to comply with the regulations on closing major findings affecting flight safety, operation of 6 operators have been suspended: Jet Airlines, Jenis Air, AzeeAir, Phoenix, Qazaq Helicopters, MS AIR KZ. This will continue until they recover back to minimum compliance level. Certificates of 2 operators were revoked: Bek Air, Sigma Airlines and one aircraft was permanently grounded after engineering inspection as it was no longer capable of safe flight.
After Fokker-100 crash, a regulatory compliance audit of Bek Air was carried out by AAK staff supported by UKCAA inspectors a number of serious safety findings were identified. An internal investigation was carried out alongside the investigation into the action of the two inspectors responsible for the reports on Bek Air. These inspectors were found to have acted inappropriately and were dismissed. Without a certificate for international flights, the airline also served flights to a number of African countries and Afghanistan. The full facts of which have never been ascertained. This enquiry lasted five months and is still ongoing having been handed over to Ministry of Interior investigators for continuation.
In addition to this main enquiry, there are three airlines that were alleged to have violated the UN Security Council embargo with Kazakh-registered aircraft operated according to the same scheme (Azee Air, Sigma Airlines, Jenis Air). The owners of the airlines are foreign companies. The aircraft of these operators were operated in the Middle East region for the benefit of foreign owners and customers, and did not serve Kazakhstan. The enquiry again lasted several months during which time we discovered that Sigma airlines had also operated illegal public transport flights in Chile. The enquiry involved a number of governmental agencies UN staff and third country enquiry teams.
The primary findings of these enquires identified issues with current legislation are that:
Inspectors require considerably more training than had hitherto being the case. A full inspection of training requirements was made by the UK CAA and staff is now being trained in accordance with that training plan.
Records of a paper nature which cannot be verified can easily be forged and counterfeited by individuals to gain advantage, as a result digitalization of all records was started which will take about 3 years to complete. A programme of IT development to bring in new methods of aviation oversight has been established using an international team to help develop the tools necessary for Kazakhstan to obtain assurance of compliance.
Training schemes lacked sufficient content to ensure that crews and engineering staff had appropriate training and understanding of risks they were managing. In particular accountability for safety related actions by crews and ramp staff needed to be addressed. And safety management systems improved. All three primary airlines have entered into proactive engagement on SMS activity and have a positive a regular dialogue with the regulator on key safety issues. Safety training is being addressed along with development of safety reporting systems to improve safety feedback.
The accident helped in understanding the issues affecting aviation management in Kazakhstan and its findings are built into the aviation strategy approved by the AAK Board, CAC, and the management team which will take three years to deliver a fully operational aviation regulator.
As part of that Strategy we have reviewed Kazakhstan’s aviation legislation against the requirements of ICAO. Aviation Administration of Kazakhstan has prepared a package of amendments to the legislation in order to ensure constant control over operators operating flights outside the airspace of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a permanent base at airfields of a foreign state along with a comprehensive programme to bring into force additional risk management provisions such as UAV legislation, charging schemes, control and ownership, just culture, occurrence reporting, and air accident investigation.
If the amendments are approved, civil aircraft operators operating non-scheduled flights outside Kazakhstan will now have to have their head office located only in Kazakhstan, and operational and financial decisions affecting the direction, control and coordination of the organization’s activities and operations will have to be available for review by the competent government authorities in Kazakhstan. In addition, mandatory requirements will be introduced for the availability of equipment that provides data transmission on the status and location of an aircraft intended for all operations, via ground, and satellite communication channels.
Also, the requirements of the legislation on flight safety control are being reinforced. The required amendments to the legislation are being developed.
The Just Culture concept is being developed and will be launched in 2021 which will support in creating an environment where aviation personnel, without fear of punishment, can freely report their mistakes and help the employer and the authorized organization to eliminate their causes. This is also being supplemented with the creation of engagement groups the first three of which are airlines, airports and UAV builders and operators. Further groups will be launched next year to increase communication with the СА community as well as private and sports flying.
The essence of the Step 68 model is to provide support to its industry by assuring safety, promoting recovery and growth. This is focused on the future sustainability of the industry to reduce disruption through external action by other State actors. This is further supported by increasing International linkage through improved engagements with ICAO, EASA and Other State actors, as well as internally with other departments and ministries.
In relation to airports changes are being made to the procedure for issuing land plots that will limit the use of land and the construction of facilities on the aerodrome territory that pose a threat to flight safety.
Ensuring flight safety is a priority task of the Civil Aviation Committee and the Aviation Administration of Kazakhstan, for which the priority direction of development in the coming years remains a consistent increase in the level of flight safety.