Aviation Safety and Security - ADB's Take

Feature | 23 July 2014

The safety of air travel is a hot topic right now. ADB has been working with governments around Asia and the Pacific to keep people safe in the air.

The safety and security of commercial aviation is one of the most complex activities that a country must undertake. In addition to regulating the airlines based in the country, the government must develop the expertise to safely direct the air traffic moving through its skies and maintain security on flights.

The Asian Development Bank has been an active partner in helping countries in Asia and the Pacific devise strategies and policies that will help keep air passengers safe and secure. It has also worked to modernize airports from the mountains of Nepal to the tiny islets of the South Pacific.

The Pacific, made up of thousands of islands across 30 million square kilometers of ocean, is one of the areas most in need of assistance in the complex work of aviation safety and security. Countries in the Pacific need modern air transport for the tourism and trade that drive their economies.

Limited Resources

But modern air transport operations require compliance with internationally recognized safety regulation and oversight. Many small Pacific countries have limited resources to develop air traffic control systems, airport operations and technical skills for pilots and ground personnel.

With the support of ADB, countries in the Pacific - specifically Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu - established a Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) that allows resources and expertise to be pooled.

Some of the information accumulated by ADB's work has been captured in the publication, Oceanic Voyages: Aviation in the Pacific, which offers a detailed analysis of the Pacific aviation market, including regional and international trends influencing the development of aviation in the region.

Mountain Airports

In Nepal, where mountainous terrain creates many isolated communities and tourism is a vital driver of the economy, air transport is critical. An ADB project has helped improve the safety, security and capacity of the main Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, as well as that of three remote domestic airports (Lukla, Rara, and Sumikot).

In March, ADB announced that it will provide a $30 million loan to the Government of Nepal to expand the upgrading of the Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa into an international airport. This includes improving the safety standards of the facility.

"Airport upgrading is critical to further developing nearby Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, into an attractive cultural and tourism destination," said Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB's Country Director for Nepal. "The number of foreign visitors to Lumbini is rapidly rising in the recent years, and airport improvement will help in further opening Lumbini and linking it with international tourist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world."

ADB has also worked to help countries effectively partner with private companies in developing safe and secure air transport system. Some of the expertise from that work is captured in the publication, Developing Best Practices for Promoting Private Sector Investment in Infrastructure: Airports and Air Traffic Control.

Complex Work

In some of the most challenging environments in Asia, ADB is working with governments to make air travel safer and more secure. In Bhutan, the a project has helped the country link with its regional neighbors while another has strengthened air transport regulations.

ADB also helped improve the Louangphrabang Airportin the Lao People's Republic and rehabilitate regional airports in Afghanistan. In Mongolia, ADB helped the government develop a civil aviation strategy.