The Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority, Madam Musayeroh Barrie, led pivotal discussions with the European Commission for Safety on April 25, 2024, in Brussels, with an objective to secure Sierra Leone’s exit from the European Union’s Air Safety List.

During the discussions, the Chairman of the EU Safety Committee, Peter Bombay, emphasized that he was thrilled to receive the DG and her delegation only six months after his initial engagement with her in Abuja in November 2023.

He further stated that the EU Commission has been impressed with her professional background, her leadership abilities and is committed in providing the needed support to Sierra Leone through the SLCAA.

Peter Bombay underscored that significant gains have been made by the authorities and the Commission is encouraged by the SLCAA’s strong commitment to capacity building of key technical staff.

He expressed that there is still a need to strengthen some of the key departments especially those dealing with the flight safety standards and encouraged Sierra Leone to prioritize those areas with the support of ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority).

According to him, the Commission is looking forward to sending a delegation to Sierra Leone to assess its preparedness in issuing AOC after Sierra Leone would have completed the relevant training for the key staff highlighted during the discussions.

With the display of a high sense of commitment and professionalism by Madam Musayeroh Barrie, so far the discussions resulted in a fruitful culmination in the development of a road map that was agreed upon with the EU Commission.

According to the road map, it was resolved that Sierra Leone will, in the next 6-8 months, strengthen the capacity of its keys technical staff with the support of the Italian CAA.

Furthermore, the country will also work hard to develop experience in registering Aircraft’s and issuing Air Operator Certificates.

According to the Chairman of the EU Safety Committee, Peter Bombay after such may have been achieved Sierra Leone will invite the EU Commission to review the process it has followed and if the Commission is satisfied it will then proceed to remove Sierra Leone from the List.

It must be noted that Sierra Leone was placed on the blacklist in 2008 for issuing Air Operator Certificates to Airlines without meeting international safety and oversight requirements.

As the country was blacklisted such had a direct effect on ticket cost as airlines pay much higher insurance to fly to countries that are blacklisted.
Indisputably, the West African nation’s bustling coastal city, Freetown, stands as a bustling trade hub, but its aviation sector was marred by its inclusion on the EU’s Air Safety List.

Sierra Leone’s engagement in these talks signals a concerted effort to strengthen its civil aviation standards. The SLCAA is focusing on bolstering capacities across legislative frameworks, technical expertise, safety oversight and compliance monitoring, with particular emphasis on addressing operational restrictions outlined in Regulation (EC) No 2111/2005.

The EU Air Safety List, albeit contentious, serves as a critical tool for enhancing global aviation safety standards. Airlines listed face rigorous scrutiny, with removal contingent upon demonstrating compliance with stringent safety norms established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Responsibility for updates to the EU Air Safety List lies with the European Commission, supported by the EU Air Safety Committee. Decisions regarding list updates are informed by information sourced from various aviation bodies, including ICAO and the FAA.

Inclusion on the Air Safety List imposes significant restrictions on airlines’ operations within the EU, unless stringent safety conditions are met. However, exceptions exist for special circumstances, such as Government or State flights, subject to specific authorizations.

As a road map was reached, Sierra Leone’s commitment to elevating aviation standards underscores its determination to regain its reputation as a safe destination for air travel.

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