Case Study – Vanuatu

Ensuring Vanuatu’s aircraft fly safely with OSCA

Flight safety is the number one consideration for Manfred Veremaito, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu’s (CAAV) Airworthiness Officer. It’s his job to manage and maintain Vanuatu’s aircraft registry and issue airworthiness certificates to private and commercial aviation operators.

Manfred brings a wealth of practical experience to the job. Since late 2014, Manfred has worked in Port Vila with CAAV following 10-years frontline operational experience with Vanuatu’s national airline, Air Vanuatu.

“Now I manage the CAAV Aircraft Registry and airworthiness certifications and renewals. Before COVID-19, I was oversighting about 40 aircraft annually, but this has significantly dropped to about 30 as some operators opted to ‘park’ aircraft rather than renew their airworthiness certificates, aircraft have left Vanuatu or are no longer flying here,” explains Manfred.

Manfred Veremaito, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu’s (CAAV) Airworthiness Officer. © PASO.

PASO case study osca

Airworthiness – What is it?

An airworthy aircraft is one that:

Complies with all the rule requirements relation to design, manufacture, maintenance, modification, repair, and safety.  Which means:

  • It conforms to its design and manufacture specifications
  • All modifications and / or repairs are installed correctly
  • It is maintained in accordance with all applicable rules
  • All due maintenance is completed on time and correctly, and
  • All components, substances, fuel, and fluids are included in its airworthiness status.

It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure the airworthiness of the aircraft. It is the pilot’s responsibility to ensure the aircraft is airworthy before the fly it.

Off-Site Certification Audits

It’s a challenging operating environment. Ultimately, it’s the CAAV’s responsibility for air safety and security compliance in Vanuatu as per international aviation laws and standards. With Vanuatu’s aviation environment classified as ‘still developing’, due to the growing capability and capacity of the CAAV and local operators, PASO supports the CAAV with technical expertise to achieve compliance.

As a Regional Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (RSOO) recognized by the International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO), it’s PASO’s role to provide quality aviation safety and security oversight services to all PASO Members via their civil aviation authorities (CAAs).

With COVID-19 border closures, PASO’s safety oversight system has been fine-tuned to enable Off-Site Certification Audits (OSCA) for PASO Members via their CAAs. Off-site support is now delivered remotely by PASO’s Inspectors to local CAA personnel, who are supported by the PASO Inspectors to carry out the inspections on the ground.

In Vanuatu, PASO Inspectors are working with Manfred to ensure aircraft are airworthy, and with other CAAV staff to ensure compliance of the nations’ aerodromes, air navigation services, aviation security, flight operations and personnel licensing as per ICAO Standards and Recommended Practice (SARPS).

Vanuatu’s airworthiness experience

The Republic of Vanuatu is an island archipelago that relies on five commercial operators with around 30 domestic aircraft to connect and service the nation’s 65+ inhabited islands. CAAV’s mandated purpose is “to ensure the safety of all people who engage in, benefit from or otherwise maybe impacted by civil aviation activities within the nation’s sovereign airspace”.

It’s a rigorous process to facilitate a new aircraft onto the CAAV Aircraft Registry, and to certify renewals that ensure aircraft are fit to fly safely. It’s a responsibility that Manfred takes extremely seriously and that’s made possible with the off-site support of PASO Airworthiness Inspectors.

“To enter the aircraft register, an airline operator will apply for a Certificate of Registration from the CAAV. We check its Type Acceptance Report (TAR) design for conformity with Vanuatu requirements, which are derived from New Zealand’s . We need to certify that it can fly under different categories whether for private or public transport operations. Registration is affected after all requirements are satisfactorily met.”, says Manfred.

“The technical expertise of PASO among other functions is required specifically for physically inspecting the aircraft and make a recommendation to the CAAV Director as applicable. When anomalies or discrepancies are identified, CAAV collaborates with the operator to address as applicable.”

“In straight forward situations with an accepted aircraft type we are familiar with and an operator who can provide all the application supporting information required (such as air records, and access to the aircraft and manufacturer), this process can take a week. If it’s an unfamiliar aircraft, the process takes longer. The process is longer for first-of-type aircraft and when operators are not familiar with registration process.”

The turnaround time for renewals is usually faster. Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737 airworthiness certificate renewal in December 2020 took three days to process with PASO’s remote certification support.

“With aircraft airworthiness renewal certificates, we do a conformity inspection involving a review of the aircraft’s 12-month maintenance history and how well they have followed and complied with the specified maintenance program as per flight cycles and flight hours. It’s a lot of record checking and cross-checking. We don’t want to compromise on safety”, says Manfred.

Airworthiness Inspection. © CAAV

PASO casestudy osca - Man fixing plane

Air Vanuatu. © AVL

air vanuatu plane

Overcoming COVID-19 challenges

Working with PASO’s off-site Airworthiness Inspectors is helping CAAV to overcome COVID-19 challenges.

“We have been trialing the OSCA with PASO since November 2019. The situation here and our processes are not the same as in mature aviation systems, like Australia or New Zealand, even though the ICAO standards are the same. Other factors also come into play, like remoteness, economic issues, operator management changes, and even problematic internet connections,” explains Manfred.

“December 2020 was a challenging month! We certified four aircraft including a Cessna 207, a Twin Otter, and Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737 which is being used for international repatriation and cargo services. In a record two-week time, we also processed and certified their ATR72 after being on the ground for a few months, which is pivotal to Vanuatu’s domestic air connectivity. It was high pressure. We were online conferencing with the operator’s management team to work through the certification process,” says Manfred.

“Through this experience, now the operators have a better understanding of the airworthiness renewal requirements, and equally the PASO Inspectors have a practical understanding of the operating landscape CAAV is working within.”

Ultimately, it’s all about keeping the Island nation’s aircraft safely flying says Manfred.

“In these challenging times, it’s important that we keep our aviation industry afloat. In Vanuatu we have limited modes of transport, so we need to maintain safe air services which are a critical link between our scattered islands and neighbouring countries. To do this we need to deliver a robust regulatory environment that ensures compliance of all our aircraft.”