New Georgian agency forms part of safety crackdown

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Georgian authorities are establishing a new, independent civil aviation agency as part of a safety crackdown which has also led to dozens of aircraft being removed from its registry.

Ramp inspections of Georgian-registered aircraft have revealed "various major findings", says the European Commission in a detailed breakdown of its most recent blacklist revision.

It has also expressed concern over safety compliance by aircraft registered in Georgia which have been imported from countries whose carriers are blacklisted.

Georgian regulators have revoked several air operator's certificates over the past six months.

These have included the AOCs of carriers identified as Air Batumi and TAM Air, while that of Sun Way - which lost an Ilyushin Il-76 in an accident in Karachi last November - expired on 3 February and has not been renewed.

Georgian regulator UTA told the European Commission's air safety committee earlier this month that 29 out of 79 aircraft on the state register had been removed.

These included a Boeing 747-200 freighter operated by Eurex Cargo, plus 10 Il-76s, 12 Antonov An-26s and An-12s, and six other miscellaneous types.

The Commission says that, following a meeting with UTA last month, it reviewed documentation indicating that an independent civil aviation agency would be set up by 15 April.

While the accident on 4 April involving a Georgian Airways Bombardier CRJ100 in Kinshasa has underlined its concerns, the Commission says its air safety committee noted UTA's "willingness to provide transparent information and co-operate closely to remove gaps" and adds that "further reforms are foreseen in the near future".