Rwanda: Government Moves to Improve Aviation Security

Passengers board a RwandAir plane heading to Cotonou at Kigali International Airport.
6 February 2018

Government yesterday tabled a bill in the Lower House that seeks to establish new regulations governing civil aviation in the country.

While presenting the draft law in the House, the Minister of State in charge of Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, said that the new regulations will improve the way Rwanda investigates aircraft incidents and accidents.

Among other things, the draft law provides articles that empower the Minister in charge of Infrastructure to conduct aircraft accident investigations and outlines how Rwanda works with other organisations and governments to investigate the accidents and incidents.

Uwihanganye said that the proposed regulations will also enable the national carrier, RwandAir, to fly with ease to European and American destinations because the new aviation rules are in line with standard requirements in Europe and the United States of America (USA).

Currently, RwandAir flies to two European capitals - London and Brussels - and officials have previously talked of direct flights to the United States by the national carrier.

"We need this law because we are heading towards improvement in terms of how the aviation industry works in relation to security and safety. For government, the aviation industry is a key strategic sector we want to invest in and for that to be possible we have to be able to have a very strong safety and security system in place," he told The New Times shortly after presenting the draft law in Parliament.

The minister said in an explanatory note that the bill also incorporates United States of America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and European Union's European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) requirements.

The harmonisation is critical for Rwanda because before any airline starts its operations either into USA or EU, the FAA or the EASA, respectively, conducts safety and security audits on the country from where the airline comes from.

The objective of the audit is to determine whether that country's oversight of its airlines that operate, or seek to operate, into the U.S or the E.U, or codeshare (entering into a partnership) with a U.S or EU airline, complies with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The proposed law provides the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) with the powers and responsibilities for safety and security oversight of air operators, aircraft maintenance organisations, aviation personnel, aerodromes, air navigation services providers and aviation training organisations.

The government assigned the mandate of daily management and operation of airports and provision of air navigation services to a new company (the Rwanda Airports Company), leaving RCAA with the responsibility to ensure that aviation policies are enforced.

Parliament yesterday approved the basis of the draft law establishing regulations governing civil aviation, which means that its scrutiny in the Lower House will continue at the standing committee level.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and RCAA will be responsible for the implementation of the law once it is in place.

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