At face value the contents of the European Commission’s latest so-called safety blacklist of airlines and national civil aviation authorities (CAA) are fairly predictable. Despite the presence of both North Korea and Iran, it is not so much an “axis of evil” as it is an “axis of the feeble” in terms of aviation safety regulation.
But on closer inspection, the EC list is very much a work in progress. Those who find themselves on the unsafe list aren’t condemned to eternal exclusion from European airspace. The list represents a sliding scale of safety concerns ranging from those who remain indefinitely banned to those who are working to redeem themselves and those who are on probation.
The latest list includes 17 countries for which the EC does not have confidence in the willingness or ability of their respective CAAs to enforce aviation safety. From these countries a total of 278 airlines remain banned from EU airspace, or at least restricted in their freedom to operate there.
The EC has issued a new ban on all Sudanese carriers due to what it describes as the “poor safety performance of the civil aviation authority of Sudan resulting from persistent noncompliance with international standards in the area of oversight.” The newly banned also include Ariana Afghan Airlines, Cambodia’s Siem Reap Airways International and Silverback Cargo Freighters of Rwanda. The EC has also issued a new ban on Iran Air and commission officials are set to travel to Iran to confront Iranian authorities over their safety concerns. Despite continuing concerns about North Korea, the EC has allowed the country’s Air Koryo back into Europe after the airline fit unspecified equipment to its fleet. Similarly TAAG Angola Airlines can again fly into Europe even though the EC has told Angola’s CAA to do more to rectify faults with other carriers.
The EC has acknowledged the efforts of the Philippines CAA to address safety deficiencies reported by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the International Civil Aviation Organization and also measures taken by Cebu Airlines and Philippines Airlines. But, for the time being, both carriers and all Filipino operators remain excluded from Europe.