Rwanda’s national airline, RwandAir, appears well on course to accomplish their IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Certification later this year, then bringing to a successful conclusion a process which started in mid-2012 and has since then advanced considerably.
A firm of aviation consultants from Germany, Aviation Quality Services (AQS), provided the airline with the initial guidance to launch the process in earnest and the appointment of Sonia Kamikazi, who was selected from among the management team to coordinate and drive the process has, according to several key staff at the airline, added focus and enabled the process to go forward at as fast a pace as can be expected. In fact, Mrs. Sonia, perhaps as a result of her dedicated work and enthusiasm to accomplish her tasks within the anticipated timeframe and within budgets, was honored as RwandAir’s staff of the year 2013.
She in turn however credited her bosses, CEO John Mirenge and Deputy CEO Jean Paul Nyirubutama, and the heads of departments she interacts with on a daily basis as well as other staff of the airline for her personal success and the progress in her work to make RwandAir the latest airline to be IOSA certified.
Weekly meetings of all relevant departments which play a role in the certification process and will be subject to an audit by International Air Transport Association (IATA), are now as a matter of course attended by the airline’s Deputy CEO Jean Paul Nyirubutama, a clear sign that the airline’s top management is keenly interested to ensure that there are neither bottlenecks nor other logistical challenges standing in the way of accomplishing this task in a timely manner.
RwandAir was in fact last year chosen by IATA to be part of a group of around 20 airlines to participate in a dedicated training program related to the IOSA certification process. A “mock audit” in August last year, at the end of the training program, which looked at some 1.000 criteria, showed already very significant compliance.
Among the outstanding issues mentioned during a recent interview with Mrs. Kamikazi were regulatory approvals for all the various operating manuals which were submitted to the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority in September last year and which were progressively vetted and then approved by Rwanda’s aviation regulatory body.
Some recent developments at the airline also led to a shifting of the timeframe for the final audit, such as the arrival and necessary integration of a new aircraft type, after RwandAir earlier this month took delivery of a brand new Bombardier Q400 NextGen. This addition to the fleet required the RCAA to grant type approval first, with a range of new additional manuals related to the operation, crew training and maintenance of this aircraft type being prepared and requiring regulatory approvals ahead of the aircraft commencing commercial flights. The same logic applied as only a few weeks earlier the airline announced a wide ranging agreement with Ethiopian Airlines’ maintenance division, where – again after the regulators first carried out their due diligence and inspected the facility – approvals were needed by the RCAA to progress the IOSA process.
RwandAir’s fleet of 4 Boeing B737NGs and the latest arrival, the Bombardier Q400 NextGen, will in the future undergo heavy maintenance in Addis Ababa and it is understood that the mandatory pilot training, global aviation regulations require such training at least once a year, in flight simulators will also be done at the Ethiopian Airlines’ aviation academy at Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital.
Meanwhile RwandAir has already tendered for the provision of IOSA Audit Services from among the companies approved by IATA for this purpose and recently chosen one of the three who made the shortlist.
By the end of May, or soon afterwards, will a team of 5 auditors come to Kigali and spend a week in auditing RwandAir’s organization, manuals, operations, aviation security measures, maintenance and training regimes, among other areas an IOSA audit ordinarily covers, before submitting their findings to IATA for detailed study and analysis. Only once IATA has accepted the audit and the recommendations made, will a decision be made on RwandAir’s readiness to be certified under the IATA Operational Safety Audit.
IOSA certification is a quality seal of approval for an airline in this day and age and, besides giving assurance to the travelling public of an airline’s safe operations, opens the doors for wider cooperation with already approved airlines vis-a-vis for instance codeshared flights and closer commercial agreements. All the best to the RwandAir team over the coming weeks in the final countdown to their IOSA audit.