12 Mar 2009

PNG's air safety regulator to be audited by international aviation body

4:33 pm on 12 March 2009

The United Nations body for aviation safety will audit Papua New Guinea's air safety regulator next week amid claims it's entirely dysfunctional.

A team from the International Civil Aviation Organisation will assess PNG's Civil Aviation Authority , which has failed in the past to properly investigate a string of crashes.

In April last year, PNG's Department of Transport admitted 19 plane and helicopter crashes since 2000, which killed 16 people including three Australians, had not been properly investigated.

A lack of funds and facilities were cited for the failures.

The most recent controversy to hit the CAA relates to two private companies that were allowed to operate Russian-built helicopters without certification since 1986.

Senior Civil Aviation technical staff have told the AAP news agency there are serious concerns that politics within the organisation is putting the aviation industry at risk.

They fear that in a worst-case scenario, the International organization auditors could prevent the national carrier Air Niugini from flying to international destinations such as Australia.