Search

 

Cablegate: Civil Aviation Officials Keen to Regain Cat 1 Status;

VZCZCXRO4757
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #0894/01 2570909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140909Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9445
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8606
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 3087
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0002
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1201

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000894

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA/INSB AND SCA/RA
STATE PASS TO USTDA FOR JACOB FLEWELLING
STATE PASS TO FAA FOR THOMAS NASKOVIAK
NEW DELHI PASS TO FAA AARON WILKINS
BANGKOK FOR USTDA MARK DUNN
SINGAPORE FOR FAA
MONTREAL FOR FAA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON ETRD BEXP BG
SUBJECT: CIVIL AVIATION OFFICIALS KEEN TO REGAIN CAT 1 STATUS;
SUPPORTING BIMAN PLANS TO BUY BOEINGS FOR US FLIGHTS

REF A: DHAKA 770 B: DHAKA 691 C: DHAKA 540 D: 08 DHAKA 474

DHAKA 00000894 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Bangladesh civil aviation officials voiced their keen
desire to see Bangladesh upgraded to Category 1 status during a
recent visit by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
representatives. By improving aviation safety to reach Category 1
status, civil aviation authorities would help state-owned Biman
Airlines resume and sustain weekly flights to the United States, as
part of a high-profile effort to revitalize Biman. Civil aviation
safety officials shared the results of an International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit and discussed Bangladesh's action
plan to address aviation safety deficiencies. FAA reps said they
might be able to provide technical assistance and recommended
further consultations at an ICAO regional meeting in Osaka in
October. Biman's plan to resume U.S. flights has galvanized civil
aviation officials to try to achieve Cat 1 status by the time Boeing
delivers its first tranche of new aircraft in 2011; however, many
bureaucratic, technical and financial challenges remain.

POLITICAL PRESSURE FOR CAT 1 STATUS
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman
Sakeb Majlis told the Senior FAA Representative South Asia, Aaron
Wilkins, that Bangladesh needed to obtain Category 1 status "at any
cost" to support Biman's planned flights to the United States. CAAB
staff discussed their prior engagement with the FAA, preliminary
results from a 2009 ICAO audit, and a draft action plan to address
deficiencies identified in the audit.

3. (SBU) Wilkins reaffirmed the FAA's willingness to work with the
CAAB to strengthen civil aviation security, but cautioned that CAAB
would need strong and sustained political support from the GOB
through the long process towards Category 1 certification. He noted
the CAAB had failed to follow through on similar requests to the FAA
in 2007 due to CAAB concerns over a draft agreement and CAAB's
limited funding for technical assistance.

4. (SBU) Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ghulam Quader said
FAA recertification was critical to Biman's plans and pledged strong
political support for CAAB's efforts. He asked for details of
technical assistance and funding requirements but emphasized the
CAAB would "have to get it done," regardless of the cost. Wilkins
noted that different resources might be tapped to improve aviation
safety, including the FAA's joint program with the U.S. Trade and
Development Agency (USTDA) that could share the cost of an initial
technical assessment.

BIMAN WANTS TO RESUME JFK FLIGHTS
---------------------------------

5. (SBU) National airline Biman Bangladesh plans to resume bi-weekly
flights to JFK airport, which were suspended in 2006 in part because
Biman's aging aircraft could not make the long flight from Dhaka to
New York. Biman began these flights in 1993 when the CAAB had a
"pass" rating with the FAA, but the flights were frozen in 1997
after the FAA's assessment under its International Aviation Safety
Assessments (IASA) program placed the CAAB in Category 2 status.
The FAA withdrew its approval for Biman's JFK flights in April 2008
after Biman failed to use the route for over a year. Biman recently
reacquired landing rights at JFK and wants to resume flights by
early 2010, using 777-300 aircraft "wet-leased" from an operator in
a Category 1 country. In the longer term, Biman plans to purchase 4
777-300ERs from Boeing, two of which will be used for JFK flights
following their delivery in late 2011 (ref B, C and D). This will
require the CAAB to achieve Cat 1 status by the time these planes
are delivered in 2011. Post will provide an update septel on
Biman's plans for leasing and acquiring aircraft.

NEXT STEPS: MOU AND OSAKA BILAT
-------------------------------

6. (SBU) The FAA rep offered to share a draft memorandum of
understanding CAAB would need to sign to establish a framework for
FAA assistance. One CAAB safety manager explained that a memorandum
of agreement (MOA) proposed by the FAA in 2007 included some

DHAKA 00000894 002.2 OF 002


provisions that were "not in favor of the interest of Bangladesh".
After hesitating over this language, they chose to defer the
agreement until after the ICAO audit. FAA later noted the draft MOA
proposed in 2007 did not differ significantly from the current
template FAA used for technical assistance programs.

7. (SBU) FAA rep Wilkins promised to share the audit and action
plan with FAA technical staff and recommended follow-up bilateral
meetings at the Directors General of Civil Aviation Conference in
Osaka, Japan October 12-16, where FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt
will lead a U.S. delegation. During these meetings, the parties can
begin discussing an action plan to prepare the CAAB for an eventual
IASA assessment before Boeing delivers planes to Biman in 2011. At
the same time, CAAB will need to finalize the draft MOU before
requesting a technical assessment by FAA flight standards staff.

COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) A convergence of factors - the ICAO audit, Biman's
rebranding and the expected delivery of Boeings starting in 2011 -
is setting the stage for Bangladesh to make real progress on civil
aviation safety. By supporting these efforts, we can help lay the
foundation for the Boeing deal to move forward. Since more than a
decade has passed since its last IASA assessment, the CAAB will need
to devote considerable energy and resources to prepare for an IASA
audit. While the CAAB seems to have strong political backing, it
will need to overcome many bureaucratic, technical and financial
obstacles to reach Cat 1 status. Post will coordinate with FAA,
USTDA and the CAAB to facilitate this process, which advances
Mission goals of improving aviation safety and supporting the USD
1.2 billion sale of Boeing planes to Biman.

MORIARTY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>