The Ministry of Transport has decided to call in experts from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to help bring Cyprus in line with its safety obligations to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
As reported by Phileleftheros on Tuesday, similar efforts involving experts from Greece, Ireland and Austria—as well as with Cypriots in the private sector– failed to bring about the desired results.
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The need for specialised intervention has been made even more urgent following a rise in Cyprus air traffic and the creation of three new Cypriot airlines as well as the decision by a number of other companies to use Cyprus as a permanent base of their aircraft.
The Ministry has asked the House Finance Committee to release €294,000 for the purpose of bringing in the air safety experts, something that is anticipated to occur during the next Committee meeting on Monday, September 4.
The decision to bring in the British experts, meanwhile, had actually been taken during a Cabinet meeting at the start of this year.
It allows the hiring of two experts for a period of two years—at the cost of £840,000 plus VAT– with the option of renewing the contact for a further two years if deemed necessary.
The last British civil aviation experts hired by the Cyprus government were, following the Helios air tragedy in 2005, found to have no jurisdiction to actually enforce air safety improvements.
The experts at the time, who had been working for the Cyprus government for the three years leading up to the crash, left the island immediately afterwards as their contracts were not renewed.
They did not participate in any subsequent investigations into the crash, Phileleftheros notes.
The doomed Boeing took off from Larnaca, on August 14, 2005 on its way to Prague via Athens.
Three hours later it crashed on the mountain of Grammatikos, north of Athens, killing all 121 passengers and crewmembers aboard in the greatest air tragedy in Cyprus’ history.