Thursday, December 5, 2019
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PILOTS seeking access to restricted areas of airports will have to display a valid identification badge to gain entry, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday in the House of Assembly.
This is one of the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority’s (BCAA) measures to clamp down on the problem of unlicensed pilots, also known as “hackers”, performing commercial flights.
“Right now any pilot can jump on the ramp and go where they want that to go,” he said. “That’s a major contributing factor for a number of the accidents we have had.”
To receive a badge, pilots will have to meet all legal requirements, including having necessary medical and professional certifications.
Mr D’Aguilar made his comments during debate yesterday on the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority and Regulations Bill. The Bill would make the authority independent of the BCAA as required by the International Civil Aviation convention to which this country is a signatory.
The Bill, which passed the House of Assembly yesterday and will now head to the Senate, specifies how records received in the course of investigations must be protected. Among other things, it makes it illegal for a person to circulate, publish or give access to a draft investigation report or any document obtained during an investigation of an accident or incident.
Chester Cooper, opposition deputy leader, said he fears some of these considerations of confidentiality “might fly in the face of the Freedom of the Information Act, if ever enacted by this government.”
“The need for public awareness leading to public safety should outweigh the need to protect what those involved in the investigation believe should be kept secret,” he said.
The bill stresses that the findings of air accident investigators cannot be used in criminal proceedings. The role of air accident investigators is to ascertain the facts, not ascribe blame.
Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin and PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis expressed concern about this, however, saying it may fly in the face of the emerging jurisprudence on the matter.
Nonetheless, the bill was passed yesterday evening with unanimous support of the governing and opposition parties.