The government intends to introduce regulations to crack down on pilots engaged in air hacking in The Bahamas by the end of March, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said.
“We can say [the] first quarter,” D’Aguilar said on Wednesday.
He added: “The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) has remit for that exercise, and they have done all of their consultation with industry.
“They have reviewed what needs to be changed. They’ve suggested changes to the regulations, and I believe it’s at this very moment at the attorney general’s office getting the final vetting.”
The minister’s comments came more than a year after the crash of a six-seater aircraft on Andros, which claimed the lives of six people.
Months after the crash, authorities revealed that the pilot was operating a commercial flight in breach of his private pilot’s license, a practice otherwise known as “hacking”.
D’Aguilar said that the regulations “need to go hand-in-hand with the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority really being able to offer a service that is not too time-consuming and not too bureaucratic”.
“So on the one hand, we’re laying out with, ‘Okay, this is what we want you to do to make yourself legal’, and then on the other side we’re trying to make the process as easy and as straight-forward and not terribly time-consuming,” he said.
“That’s a challenge. I’m challenging the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that we meet that directive to make it more seamless. You know, when you’re in the aviation sector, while you want haste, you always have to have at the back of your mind safety. But sometimes safety to achieve safety is extremely bureaucratic.
“You [have] to check everything, cross every ‘T’, dot every ‘I’, because in the event there’s a calamity, the first thing everybody’s going to do is pour over every step and every regulation to make sure everything was followed to the T.”
Last July, BCAA Director General Captain Charles Beneby announced several regulatory changes aimed at cracking down on air hacking.
He said the authority had reintroduced a program of badging aircraft that will prominently display BCAA badges so that passengers will know that that aircraft has been found acceptable.
Beneby noted that pilots holding foreign licenses have presented an issue for the BCAA, because they do not fall under the purview of the organization.
The prevalence and unregulated use of air hackers has been a long-standing issue in the aviation sector.
The penalty for air hacking is a fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years, as well as seizure of the aircraft.
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