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What do we need to operate an aircraft safely?

There are various elements to consider when it comes to aircraft operations safety and we won’t be able to mention them all. Let’s go through some of these elements that we need to have in place:

  1. First and foremost, we need an aircraft! But not just any aircraft, it must be certified and airworthy;
  2. We will need two functional airports with the relevant requirements and equipment;
  3. We will need licensed crew who are current with their required training;
  4. The crew must be trained in approved training organisations by approved instructors or other organisations as applicable;
  5. We need an organised and controlled airspace;
  6. We need an approved Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation, what we know as CAMO, to ensure continuing airworthiness;
  7. We also need an approved maintenance organisation with fully trained aircraft engineers, to carry out the required scheduled maintenance;
  8. We need properly trained flight dispatchers who can create and file a flight plan;
  9. At the airport, we will need a set of services such as fuel, waste management, fire rescue services and many other ancillary services;
  10. We will need Weather reports and “Notice to Air Missions” what we know as NOTAMS;
  11. And what about catering? We need to keep our passengers happy too!

We could add a lot more to this list but I’m sure you get the idea of the complexity of aircraft operations!

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

It all starts with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, or more commonly known as ICAO.  ICAO was set up a few years after World War II, with the intent to facilitate international air transport.  ICAO publishes what are known as SARPS, short for Standards and Recommended Practices. SARPS are used by authorities as a basis to implement local air operations regulations. Other entities also play a role by setting operating standards, such as IATA, the International Air Transport Association. The other major players include:

  • Aircraft operators;
  • Aircraft maintenance organisations;
  • Air navigation services providers;
  • Airport operators,
  • Training organisations, and,
  • Aircraft manufacturers.

These are further supported by many other organisations providing ancillary services. Thanks to ICAO and the regulatory bodies, all this activity and interaction between organisations is highly regulated. Each of these organisations play a fundamental role in supporting, building and enhancing the levels of aircraft operations safety.