Since its re-structuring over a year and a half ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands has been busier than ever, with a growing area of responsibility.
However, the general public has still not fully grasped the CAA’s new role, explained the authority’s Director-General Richard Smith.
The organisational re-structuring separated the business service provisions of airport operations (responsibility of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority), from the regulatory responsibility of the CAA. The new structure was introduced in 1 July 2004 and in January 2005 the CAA moved to its new, but temporary, offices in Grand Harbour.
The division was the result of a direction from the UK Secretary of State, in compliance with UK obligations under international Civil Aviation Authority regulations.
The concept, explained Mr. Smith, is that there must be transparency between the provision of services and the regulation of services, which was all previously done by the CAA.
‘It’s been refreshing. We’re all enjoying the new role,’ he said.
‘At the end of the day we can demonstrate that aviation standards in the Cayman Islands are compliant with aviation standards internationally.’
After the re-structuring, the newly created CIAA became the agency with responsibility for the development and management of the country’s airports. This currently includes the Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman and the Gerrard-Smith International Airport in Cayman Brac.
Mr. Smith explained that the recently announced development plans for ORIA is totally the responsibility of the CIAA. However, the CAA has to regulate the airports (aerodromes) to ensure safety and international standards and best practices are adhered to. For example, one of the responsibilities of the Air Navigation Services division under the leadership of Mr. Jeremy Jackson is to audit, inspect and ensure that the airports comply with safety regulations such as air traffic services, telecommunications and aeronautical information services. So, the CAA is not responsible for the process whereby the airport is re-designed or the architectural style that is employed – the correct agency to give feedback for this is the CIAA.
Because the CAA previously managed the airport it recognises the challenges CIAA works under.
‘There is definitely a synergie and collaborative effort there,’ said Director of Commercial Affairs Nikki McCoy.
The development of the airport poses lots of opportunities for the CIAA, said Ms McCoy.
Of course the development of the airport ultimately impacts the workload of the CAA also, as it expands and more services are offered there is more oversight required, said Mr. Smith.
Right now there are 14 staff members working for CAA.
Although currently short-staffed, CAA will make do until it re-locates from its temporary home at Grand Harbour. The organisation is to eventually move to a corporate centre being built beside its current offices and once in there more staff will be taken on.
The three major divisions of the CAA’s regulatory role are:
Air Safety Regulation: safety compliance, airworthiness and personnel licensing as well as the maintenance of the CI Aircraft Registry. Director of Air Safety Regulation is Mr. Ian Scott.
Air Navigation Services Regulation: the certification and regulatory safety oversight of airports and air traffic control services, including aeronautical telecommunications, rescue and fire fighting, meteorological and aeronautical information services in the Cayman Islands.
Commercial Affairs: economic regulation of the aviation industry throughout the Cayman Islands. The division aims to provide effective economic regulatory framework and policies for Cayman Islands’ airlines and in accordance with local legislation and international standards and recommended practices, with the objective of advancing the long-term interests of air transport operators and users. This post is also responsible for the integrated marketing activities of the CAA, including local and international PR, raising the awareness of the aircraft registry.
International activities of the CAA include promotional initiatives and partnerships with the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry at industry events, cross-marketing opportunities and work with the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau.
Additional responsibility from the UK has given the CAA authority over tariff approvals in the Cayman Islands and air service agreements.
The registry currently has 115 aircraft, which are based around the world, mostly in Europe.
The registry is also growing. This is, asserts Mr. Smith, not only because of the CAA services, but because it reflects the jurisdiction’s sound financial institutions, and legal capabilities. ‘They feel their assets are safe here,’ he said.
The CAA has another office in Brighton in the UK to facilitate the oversight of the aircraft registry base in Europe, which is 80 per cent of the entire registry.
The CAA is obligated to ensure that these aircraft comply with Cayman and international requirements. This includes inspecting records, making sure the crew is up to standard, that maintenance is being followed.
Charters or scheduled flights flying to Cayman have to pay tariffs and prove their air worthiness, along with being properly licensed and have to demonstrate insurance.
Ms McCoy noted, ‘Safety is foremost important for CAA and that’s exciting – in helping to ensure safety for the public.’