A New Direction Approach

Building a Safe and Secure Civil Aviation System in Sierra Leone: A New Direction Approach

The statement delivered by the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio on the need to improve the aviation sector, during the State Opening of the fifth Parliament, has accelerated the commitment to build a safe and secure civil aviation system that is affordable and accessible in Sierra Leone.

Drawing inspiration from the New Direction Manifesto and the medium term national development plan 2019-2023, President Bio has reaffirmed his commitment to enhance global civil aviation safety and security by certifying the Freetown International Airport (FNA) to meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). Moreover, the government is on the verge of developing a civil aviation master plan to foster development of a sound and economically viable civil aviation system.

In fulfilling the demands of the above vision, President Bio appointed Moses Tiffa Baio—a young self motivated and result-driven social entrepreneur and an aviation management expert with over a decade of senior management experience in the industry—as Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA).

Running with the President’s vision to build a sound aviation system that is worth admiring and emulating, we have carried out several safety and security assessment programs that will eventually lead to the certification of FNA, thus enhancing the State’s safety and security ratings.

In the context of aviation safety, the Safe Fund was without doubt the most needed amongst the priority programs launched by the SLCAA, and that was because the Safe Project was essential to the development of the country’s civil aviation system. Launched in May last year, the Safe Fund is an ICAO project that was launched to assist Sierra Leone resolve its aviation safety deficiencies and strengthen its oversight capabilities in the areas of Air Navigation Services (ANS) and Aerodromes and Ground Aids (AGA) in a sustainable manner that will enable the state to comply with the Abuja Safety Targets.

Noting the lack of skilled technical personnel in the areas of Flight Operations and Airworthiness, the SLCAA under the Civil Aviation Act 2017 signed a letter of agreement for technical assistance, and requested that the Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO) carry-out safety oversight responsibilities on behalf of the Authority in the fields of Flight Operations and Airworthiness.

Furthermore, the SLCAA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to provide a framework for collaboration between the two sister organizations to increase efficiency in matters relating to civil aviation, with special reference to addressing deficiencies relating to personnel licensing and aviation medicine, and preparing the State for the ICAO Universal Security Audit Program with the aim of meeting the ICAO global security rating.

In addition to the gains made in enhancing safety, the Authority carried out the first ever Airport Excellence (APEX) in safety review program for FNA. The review came as a result of the Director General’s engagement with the Airport Council International (ACI) on the State’s commitment to enhancing global airport safety to match up with the Abuja Safety Target. The review was designed principally to assist the State improve on its level of safety and compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices that are related to safe airport operations. 

The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was launched on 28th January 2018 during the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone recorded a score of 80%in terms of meeting 7 out of 8 implementing measures set out by the African Union executing agency.

Finally, the government has made great strides to reduce airport charges by reviewing the following charges:                                                           

Old Price          New Price

Passenger service charge                                               $40                              $25                          

Airport Development Charges                                       $10                              $5

Aviation Safety Fee                                                       $25                            $15

Passenger handling fees                                                  $1                             $0

Landing charges by 34%