House approves new aviation law for Uganda

KAMPALA, February 3, 2024 - Parliament has passed the Civil Aviation Authority [Amendment] Bill, 2024 that will bring Uganda’s aviation authority in conformity with the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

This follows the approval of eight amendments under the proposed Bill, which will now be forwarded to the President for assent.

The Bill was passed on Thursday at a sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.

The new law will give powers to a chief investigator to cause an investigation to be carried out where an aircraft accident or serious incident happens in Uganda or in any contracting state that does not intend to carry out an investigation.

The chief investigator will also lead investigations into an accident or serious incident that occurs in Uganda or outside Uganda involving an aircraft registered in Uganda or an aircraft operated by an operator in Uganda.
“The chief investigator must be a highly qualified person who has been in the airline industry for a long time and we normally screen them and look at their CVs. It may a retired pilot or an engineer,” said Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport.

Works Minister, Katumba Wamala (R),Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi (C) and MP Dan Kimisho during the debate on the bill (Courtesy photo).

He added that this is intended for compliance with requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO] standards and recommended practices relating to aviation security as provided for in annex 31 to the Chicago Convention.
The law also prohibits the chief investigator from disclosing any investigation records like cockpit records, recordings and transcripts of recordings from air traffic control units, while carrying out an investigation.

The Jinja South Division West MP, Timothy Batuwa noted that in times of an accident investigation, families of affected persons would require updates from such an incident.
“Government has a duty to keep releasing some information periodically that has some form of evidence. I see a contradiction with this statement that denies the chief investigator an opportunity to release credible information to the public,” Batuwa said.

Katumba said that it is important for the chief investigator to preserve information so as to protect operators like pilots and give ample time for an efficient investigation.
“Sometimes you will find the investigation takes more than three days and he does not have all the details. So you cannot just allow him to release piecemeal information,” he said.

The new law will enable the CAA to recognise agreements of third party states who are signatories to Article 83 Bis of the Chicago Convention.

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