Council: The Civil Aviation Bill, which is the amendment of the Civil Aviation Act 2000, sailed through the House of Review, and was passed yesterday with some recommendations yesterday.

The Bill was passed with all 22 members unanimously voting “yes” to endorse the Bill.

“The Bill should be forwarded back to the NA either today or tomorrow with background information of the proposed recommendations and changes since they have to proceed with review,” National Council (NC) chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga said.

The foreign relations committee chairperson, Sangay Khandu, said that the House passed the Bill after removing three clauses that were either repetitive or redundant.

Section 21 (2), section 45, which was on the term of director general and section 159, defining the director general as a post were removed.

The NC also proposed to change section 19 to not to limit members of the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority’s (BCAA) board of directors to only government agencies but to all relevant agencies. Section 19 stated that the authority shall have a board of directors consisting of five members including the chairperson from relevant government agencies as recommended by the minister upon approval of the Cabinet.

The House of Review also specified the term of a board director to three years instead of a minimum of three years as reflected in the Bill. The Council also accepted the National Assembly’s proposal of a new section 29, which stated that the board shall approve rules and regulations for effective implementation of this Act.

A new section after section 37 was also added by the Council, which stated that inspectors of BCAA shall be entitled for allowances and other benefits as decided by the board in accordance with relevant laws.

Information and communications minister DN Dhungyel, presenting the Bill in the NC said that the Act was amended to align Bhutanese civil aviation laws with those of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“The Civil Aviation Act is amended to suit ICAO policy and regulations since Bhutan is also a member of ICAO and international aviation norms,” Lyonpo said.

The Act is also reviewed to keep the Bhutanese civil aviation sector updated with international requirements since ICAO frequently reviews its safety and security measures.

The minister also said that in the past, ICAO has found that the Bhutanese civil aviation sector was lagging in safety and security. ICAO has also raised a number of problems and shortcomings with the existing Civil Aviation Act.

A feedback from ICAO on civil aviation safety and security is inadequate legal provisions in the existing Act, which could lead to safety and security issues in the future. “Without amending the Act there were risks of Bhutanese flights being barred from flying to other international airports,” the minister said.

ICAO also warned that one organisation taking up the management, services and development of the sector would lead to conflict of interest. “It has also recommended formation of an independent accident investigation unit in the ministry to undertake aircraft accident investigations,” Lyonpo said.

With amendment of the Act, the minister said that all these issues could be resolved while it would help in improving the safety and security of the civil aviation sector in the future.

Tempa Wangdi