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T&T Civil Aviation Authority Bill [SEN. THE HON. S. BAKSH]

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

aviation authority. As you can see, the adoption and total compliance with ICAO dovetails nicely with the aims and objectives of our Government’s aviation policy and the overall improvement of the country’s civil aviation system.

I now propose to briefly explain the legislative background to civil aviation in Trinidad and Tobago in order that the Members of the Senate will have a better appreciation of the circumstances under which these changes are being undertaken. The primary legislation governing our civil aviation system is British in origin and dates back to our colonial past. It derives from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Act, 1949 as adopted in Her Majesty’s colonies by the Colonial Civil Aviation Application of Act Order, 1952. This remains in effect to this day. Plans, however, are well underway to change this as shall be revealed later. Subsidiary regulations, operational orders, et cetera, were made with regularity until the promulgation of the Civil Air Navigation Order, 1961.

After Independence, Mr. President, nothing was done to further update the primary legislation or the 1961 Order for well over 30 years. While aviation internationally made vast strides, aviation in our country almost remained stagnant. While the air transport market grew by leaps and bounds, ours was incapable of taking advantage of the new environment. While ICAO’s various standards and recommended practices were consistently changed to reflect the ever dynamic world view, Trinidad and Tobago and its Civil Aviation Division were hampered by a legislative framework that became more antiquated and obsolete with each passing year.

When the FAA and ICAO conducted their audit programmes in Trinidad and Tobago, they sought evidence of the two requisites of a properly functioning regulatory system. These are, the provision in the basic aviation law of the land for a code of air navigation regulations and their promulgation, and the establishment of an appropriate state body referred to as Civil Aviation Authority with the necessary powers to ensure compliance with the regulations. Mr. President, the audit teams realized that, in order to effectively carry out these functions, the Civil Aviation Division could not remain a public service department. It required autonomy and a degree of independence by way of statute. Unless this was done, it could not ensure the highest degree of compliance to ICAO.

Ever since the United Kingdom established its Civil Aviation Authority in 1982, more and more of the numerous ICAO member states have removed their civil aviation departments from the confines of the respected civil service structures and created autonomous statutory authorities or even private

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