An Audit by the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that is expected to give RwandAir the green light to start direct flights to the United States, has been moved to September.
The carrier’s chief executive Yvonne Makolo announced the new date without giving details. RwandAir had set an earlier date of April, but the audit did not happen because according to sources, the airline was not ready.
The FAA’s audit is a mandatory procedure for airlines seeking a permit to operate direct flights to the US.
The FAA provides oversight to determine if federal aviation regulations are followed.
RwandAir applied for a permit to operate direct flights between Kigali and the US in March 2017, with a target launch of August 1, 2018.
A source told The EastAfrican that RwandAir asked for the extension to finalise the preparations.
During the recent International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) meeting in Kigali, Rwanda was awarded a certificate in recognition for its improved capabilities in overseeing and managing safety and security in the aviation sector.
An aviation industry analyst observed that the country should not get comfortable “because a harder task awaits them in September.”
“There are still things RwandAir needs to put in place if they are to ready themselves for the FAA audit. The audit is far harder and stricter compared with ICAO and others. To get the FAA permit, you have to score 90, not ICAO’s 74,” said the source.
ICAO’s assessment last year looked at eight areas for Rwanda’s aviation system: Legal framework, civil aviation organisational structure, personnel licensing activities, aircraft operations and aircraft’s suitability for safe flight, state of airports, air navigation services, as well as the capabilities to investigate accidents and serious incidents.
Ms Makolo said the ICAO certification speaks volumes about the airline’s safety. “This goes on to show that safety is at the heart of Rwanda’s aviation. This certificate speaks volumes about Rwanda and RwandAir; all this goes to build confidence,” she said.
The national carrier got the economic authority licence last month, a positive step towards securing a permit for direct flights to the US.