The current challenges Civil Aviation is facing will successfully be met only through the upgrading of the Department, a decision which has already been announced, the President’s Adviser on Civil Aviation matters and Executive Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Flight Safety Christos Petrou has told CNA in an interview.
Petrou said that in order for all challenges to be met on both a national and international level, there must be a great level of cooperation between all competent services and departments that deal with air transport. Long-term planning, efficient administration, a highly trained and efficient personnel and the proper infrastructure.
He went on to say that a proper institutional framework needs to be in place, as it applies in all states, members of both the EUROCONTROL and the EU.
Petrou pointed out that there are certain difficulties and particularities Cyprus is faced with, including its vicinity with four countries that are not members of the competent European bodies and also with Turkey, which does not recogninse the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to cooperate with Nicosia as international law stipulates.
He also said that the control tower of the illegal airport near Tymbou in the north interferes with Nicosia FIR (Flight Information Region) and this poses additional risks to air safety which the Civil Aviation must deal with.
Petrou told CNA that the framework under which the Civil Aviation was operating all these years is outdated and has not permitted the full development of Cyprus` air transport sector which is extremely important for the economy and tourism of the island.
He added that the government was now pursuing the modernisation of the Civil Aviation rapidly so that all these challenges are met.
Petrou stressed that the modernization of the Civil Aviation Department is an extremely difficult task and one needs to be extra cautious and hope that professionalism and rationality will prevail.
Asked about the safety standards on an international level, following the recent incidents with Malaysian Airlines` aircraft, Petrou said that the standards are very high and are constantly being improved.
He explained that the safety of each flight depends on a number of factors and added that flying was one the safest means of transport.
Casualties from air crashes amount to approximately 700 annually, whereas road fatalities in Europe alone each year are 40,000.
According to statistics, in 2013 the number of flights globally were 35 million, which carried 3.5 billion passengers.
Petrou also said that the safety and security of the flights were further tightened following the crash of the Malaysian flight in Ukraine and therefore more and more measures were being taken, especially in conflict zones.
In the interview Petrou also pointed out that there was a technological upgrade and improvement in aircraft around the world and personnel was being well trained and were highly skilled.
According to data from «Flight Safety Foundation», one out of four persons on each flight has an air phobia and a great number of people refuse to fly just because of this.