* Cyprus can play a regional role, says minister -
* Global flights to double by 2030 *
Flight safety remains the number one worldwide priority, particularly after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, aviation and state officials said during the fifth international conference on “Aviation Safety Performance: Can it be measured?” held in Nicosia.
According to aviation officials, 33 mln flights took off in 2013 globally, transporting over 3 bln passengers, while figures are expected to double by 2030. The global accident rate was lowered to 2.4 accidents per million departures in 2012, with the EU regarded as the safest aviation region in the world.
Cyprus, as the only EU member state in the region, can play a leading role in facilitating the adoption of common aviation standards and procedures, Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades told delegates.
In his address to the conference, the minister noted the island’s strategic position between three continents, and said the Cyprus government’s policy is to encourage regional cooperation in flight safety and civil aviation issues.
Aviation safety is a top priority for the government and we never take it for granted, Demetriades, stressed.
“It is our duty and hence our commitment, to ensure that aviation operations maintain the highest level of safety performance and meet national and international standards,” he said, adding that the government is backing efforts by Eurocontrol Director Network Manager Joe Sultana to restructure the Civil Aviation Department.
Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), said in a video message that safety has been a guiding priority for his organisation, which is committed to improving aviation safety.
He referred to the Global Safety Information Exchange (GSIE), a collaborative network established in 2010 between ICAO, IATA, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the European Commission, that uses common accident criteria.
According to GSIE, the harmonised accident rate for 2012 is 2.4 accidents per million departures, a 33% improvement in industry performance over 2011 figures.
The European Commission’s Aviation and International Transport Affairs Director, Matthew Baldwin said that the EU has become in recent years the safest aviation region in the world.
In his speech, delivered by the Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus George Markopouliotis, Baldwin noted that between 2002 and 2012, there were on average 2 fatal accidents per 10 mln flights in the EU, while the respective figure for the U.S. stood at 2.1.
He added that the EU accident rate has remained stable during the last decade, while traffic is expected to almost double by 2030, and called for vigilance to preserve and further improve the EU safety record.
Baldwin also referred to a recently revised “Regulation on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences” in civil aviation, obliging member states and the industry to collect data on such occurrences and mitigate safety risks on the basis of this information.
The legislation will be applicable by November 2015, he noted, and the Commission will present by 2015 a modern regulatory approach to safety and the governance of the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Baldwin concluded that aviation contributed significantly to the EU economy, with the industry supporting 5.1 mln jobs and adding 365 bln euros to the Union’s GDP.
The Chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation – Mediterranean (FSF-MED) Michael Constantinides said in his opening remarks that, according to ICAO figures, 33 mln flights were conducted in 2013, transporting over 3 bln passengers, while noting that figures are expected to double by 2030.
Despite these numbers, air travel continues to be the safest option and safety levels continue to rise, Constantinides said, adding that there is no room for complacency. Everybody considers flight safety as the number one priority and that the aim should be zero accidents.
The Chairman of FSF-MED welcomed the Israeli presence from the aviation sector, both as speakers and participants at the event, and said that Cyprus aims at establishing similar relations with all neighboring countries.
Catalin Radu, the President of the European Civil Aviation Conference said that aviation safety is faced with a lot of challenges and noted the pressure some European countries are under, due to the economic crisis.
He added that measuring safety performance can be quite challenging and noted that performance indicators should be specific and measurable, and targets must be achievable.
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