On February 1, 2024, Parliament swiftly approved the Civil Aviation Amendment Act, 2023, just a day after its introduction. The legislation, awaiting presidential assent to become effective, addresses critical aspects of Uganda’s aviation industry.
In response to an ongoing audit examining the safety and security of Uganda’s aviation facilities, including Entebbe International Airport and Uganda Airlines, the country is actively working to meet international standards. Minister for Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala, emphasized the urgency of aligning with global norms to position Uganda Airlines as a regional hub.
Uganda is presently undergoing the Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP), a comprehensive evaluation of the nation’s adherence to the safety and security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). ICAO, a United Nations agency, oversees the development of policies, standards, and conducts compliance audits for its signatory countries.
The newly passed law aims to address deficiencies identified during a prior audit, the Universal Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), conducted by ICAO in September 2023. Gen Wamala stressed the importance of prompt approval, warning that any delay could result in international reputational damage for Uganda’s aviation sector.
Failure to address gaps identified in the Civil Aviation Act, as per Gen Wamala, could lead to adverse audit findings, potentially issuing a notice to the world that traveling to Uganda or using Ugandan registered aircraft might pose significant safety concerns.
The USOAP scrutinizes eight crucial areas, including legislation, organisation, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services, and aerodromes. Auditors evaluate compliance with global aviation industry requirements among UCAA-approved entities such as airlines, airports, and training institutions.
Besides establishing a special unit for comprehensive aviation industry surveillance, the new law also prescribes stringent penalties for acts of violence on board aircraft, destruction of air navigation facilities, and the dissemination of false information endangering aircraft safety.