Charter operators, why risk ruin?

There is a practical and moral obligation upon all of us to do whatever needs to be done to keep the flying public, which of course includes our mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends, safe from the terror and tragedy of an IED (improvised explosive device) or other cowardly act perpetrated by unhinged minds.

It is almost inconceivable that operators are not aware of cargo security requirements as set out in Annexure 17 of ICAO and Part 108 of our local regulations.

The idea is to establish a tight and secure security conduit, from consignor to aircraft, providing not only the physical security against acts of terror but also a recorded audit trail.

Alternatively (the case with charter flights) to make all cargo secure by proper screening methods.

For terror to succeed, it only takes apathy from the aviation industry

It is almost inconceivable that operators are not aware of cargo security requirements as set out in Annexure 17 of ICAO and Part 108 of our local regulations.

The idea is to establish a tight and secure security conduit, from consignor to aircraft, providing not only the physical security against acts of terror but also a recorded audit trail. Alternatively (the case with charter flights) to make all cargo secure by proper screening methods.

It is pertinent to remind operators of the definition of cargo in the regulations:

‘Cargo means any property carried on an aircraft other than mail, stores, unaccompanied or mishandled baggage’.

It should be well noted that private flights are also subject to these requirements.

Amendment 13 to ICAO Annexure 17 standard 4.6.4 (effective 15 July 2013), which insists that cargo must be confirmed and accounted for, by a Regulated Agent (in South Africa approved under Part 108) or an entity approved by an appropriate authority (SA CAA), emphasises requirements.

Complying with the Part 108 regulations is not a complicated process nor is it expensive

The threat of ruin by non-compliance is not idle speculation or unfounded rhetoric. The South African Part 108 regulations make it obligatory for Air Carriers, which include charter to make cargo known.

If there were a major incident (and perhaps we should do away with the niceties and simply say a crash involving loss of life) legal suits and legal investigation would erupt in all directions from the numerous entities that would be involved in such a situation.

It is my view, which I have reached, over the many years that I have been involved in air cargo security and the hundreds of conversations that I have had with local, international and other role players from airline personnel, regulators, insurance underwriters, lawyers (and I could go on).

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Rob Garbett

That if you, as an operator, have not complied with what is required under Annexure 17 of ICAO, as contained in Part 108 of our local regulations, your business, no matter what its size, could collapse under the weight of claims made against you.

The simple principle is that if you are aware of the terrorist threat and are informed of what has been prescribed internationally as preventative measures, and choose not to adopt these measures, you will be held liable.

The ‘corporate veil’ has reached such levels of transparency that personal liability by directors and senior personnel is also a very real nightmare.

Perhaps more important than the legal or material point of view, is the moral question.

If people are killed in an air crash in horrific circumstances, you may have helped to prevent such slaughter, how would you feel?

Dangerous Goods covered under Part 92 is another area deserving concern. The application of the principals and requirements for the carriage of dangerous goods is sadly lacking in the charter industry. Loss of life is, of course the overwhelmingly most important consideration but not to be lightly dismissed is that aircraft hull and liability insurance underwriters will repudiate claims caused by illegal carriage of dangerous goods (or for that matter unknown cargo) even if the dangerous goods did not cause the incident.

It is without any shadow of doubt your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of the implications, both from a legal and moral point of view, of non-compliance with both the Cargo Security and Dangerous Goods regulations.

Article by Rob Garbett, Honorary Director for Life of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa and Managing Director of Professional Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd.

Article previously published in the CAASA newsletter of May 2013

 

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