The conference focused on aviation safety and the unique difficulties faced in transporting aid personnel and materials to sites that are often barely accessible.
“This was an excellent forum to explore and share the problems and solutions inherent in airborne humanitarian operations,”
said Cesar Arroyo, head of aviation safety at the World Food Programme (WFP) which presented the conference.
Arroyo’s views were echoed by the 200-plus delegates attending from across the world who heard first-hand experience from the International Red Cross, United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the US Federal Aviation Authority, as well as relief flight operators.
Participating organisations also included the Flight Safety Foundation, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Médecins Sans Frontières, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Air Safety Foundation, and civil aviation authorities from Africa, Asia, USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and the GCC.
The first day examined local and global regulatory issues affecting safety and security, and the second looked at air operations from the perspective of WFP and other humanitarian stakeholders.
HE Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of the UAE GCAA opened the conference by outlining the role that UAE has played in supporting international relief efforts in different areas of the world, and gave a warm welcome to the 200 delegates attending the launch event.
Fathi Hilal Buhazza, president and chief executive of Maximus Air Cargo, lead sponsor of the conference, called on the aviation industry to follow the example of Maximus by carrying out humanitarian missions at cost.
Buhazza insisted humanitarian missions are good for business, even though they do not bring in profit, saying: “The more hours you do, the more efficient you become,” he says.
He hopes to encourage other companies to follow suit with his Care by Air programme. He is approaching fuel suppliers, airport authorities, and handling agents asking them to offer their services at cost for charity flights.
Other speakers included Mitchell Fox, Chief of Flight Safety for ICAO who emphasized that Flag of convenience carriers can be managed safely if regulators can do their job in ensuring this.
Another speaker at the event, Nick Sabatini from the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), spoke about the trend towards criminalization of aviation accidents and the threat they pose to aviation safety.
The 2010 Global Aviation Safety Conference for Humanitarian Air Operations will be held in Mexico.
Tuesday, February 24- 2009 @ 10:56 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.