Carriers question aviation agency's authority, prompting discussions over its future

The CIS multilateral Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) is facing an uncertain future as Russia considers overhauling its civil aviation regulatory framework.

Russia's transport ministry is expected to submit draft proposals to the cabinet by early December. Government sources also disclose a plan to strip MAK of one of its core functions and transfer it to an independent, still-to-be-created body.

Since its inception in 1991 as a joint agency for 12 ex-Soviet countries, MAK has been in charge of certificating aircraft and airport safety throughout the CIS. It is also the only authority entitled to investigate and pass verdicts on air accidents in its territory.

But the duality of MAK's mandate has fuelled concerns from some over a potential conflict of interests in its activity. Notably, two carriers involved in fatal air crashes this year have hit out at the findings of the MAK investigations.

The management of Armenian flag carrier Armavia rejected investigators' conclusions about the reasons for the fatal loss of its Airbus A320 last May as hasty and erroneous. Company owner Mikhail Bagdasarov is reportedly intending to appeal against the agency's report at the international court.

Similarly, Russia's S7 Airlines has protested strongly against the probe's verdict on the crash of one of its A310-300s at Irkutsk airport in July (Flight International, 28 November-4 December).

According to experts, dismantling MAK could require approval from other signatory states, given its international status. But a transport ministry official says: "We've been requested by the Russian president to look into the matter, and are acting on that order."

Source: Flight International