Regional progress to amend the Pacific Islands Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST) and strengthen Pacific regional aviation is on schedule in the lead up to the next Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting (RAMM2) in June 2022.
Senior aviation officials from 11 Pacific countries convened on Thursday, 17 March 2022 for a virtual regional workshop organised by the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) to consider proposed revisions to the PICASST and present their national positions.
The PICASST Regional Workshop was attended virtually by senior aviation, foreign affairs and legal officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The workshop considered a raft of proposed changes to the PICASST, including empowering an enhanced regional aviation body, harmonisation of legislation and systems, collaborative training and capability building, coordinated international advocacy for the Pacific and sustainable funding arrangements.
Enacted in 2005, the PICASST is the overarching legal framework for Pacific aviation collaboration. The PICASST provides for the creation of the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) as the sole international organisation providing quality aviation safety and security services for the 10 Pacific Member States who are PICASST signatories.
A key outcome of the first Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting (RAMM1) in June 2021 was agreement to revise the PICASST to ensure it is fit for purpose due to its current limitations. At RAMM1, Regional aviation officials were tasked by the Aviation Ministers to work with PASO to improve the PICASST before the next RAMM.
“The PICASST was originally developed to provide direction and guidance for PASO service delivery to Member States through regional collaboration to comply with International best practices and standards,” said the PICASST Workshop Chair, Mr. John Hosking who is the Secretary for Transport in the Cook Islands.
“At RAMM1, our region’s Aviation Ministers agreed that the PICASST needed to be improved. They noted there’s been significant changes over the last fifteen years which have impacted aviation in the Pacific but are not reflected in the PICASST.”
“The PICASST is currently focused on safety and security regulatory oversight. Now we need to widen the scope of the Treaty to achieve a holistic coordinated, collaborative, and cost-effective approach to sustainable development in the Pacific aviation industry,” said Mr. Hosking.
The current PICASST signatories are the Pacific nations of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Associate Members of PASO are Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand. Government representatives from these nations make up the PASO Council.
Since the PICASST was first initiated, Pacific States now have a wide range of additional functions they must undertake to properly sustain robust aviation systems. These include support for sustainable economic development, including COVID-19 recovery, air connectivity, modernisation of Pacific aviation infrastructure, encouragement of new technology, commercial regulation, and service provision. States also need to oversee environmental management, facilitate border activities, and deliver search and rescue services and accident investigation.
As the RAMM Secretariat, PASO is now working on developing meeting papers ahead of the next Aviation Officials Meeting on Wednesday, 13 April 2022.
A final preparatory meeting in May 2022 is planned before the RAMM2 which is being hosted by the Government of the Cook Islands in June.
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