The East African Civil Aviation Academy, also known as the Soroti Flying School is training pilots without approval from International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO). It is emerging that the Academy has for over the years trained pilots without being certified as Approved Training Organization (ATO)
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) documentation identifies the need for only nationally certified Approved Training Organizations to conduct Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) training.
The academy according to Buikwe North MP, Captain Musoke Paul; Sebulime could be suspended for operating without an internationally reorganized Aviation training institutions license.
Musoke and other members of Parliament’s Infrastructure Committee recently visited Soroti Flying School. He says they discovered a number of anomalies that he says government needs to urgently address. The runway at Soroti according to MPS is in sorry state.
The major concern is over its legal status. Musoke says though the school is under Ministry of Works and Transport, it has no vote in the national budget because its ownership has never been resolved since collapse of the East African Community in 1977.
The Civil Aviation Authority currently manages the runway at the Soroti Flying School. Civail Aviation Authority Deputy Managing Director, Dr. David Kakuba said the legal status of Soroti Flying School is very confusing.
The East African Civil Aviation Academy was founded in September 1971 under the Directorate of Civil Aviation of the first East African Community members Uganda, Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania.
In 1984 when some of the assets of former East Africa were distributed among the three countries, the East African Civil Aviation Academy ownership was left hanging. Tanzania and Kenya have since opened own pilot schools.
Some Members of the new East African Community like Rwanda and Burundi are reportedly pushing to have the East African Civil Aviation Academy run and managed by East African Community Secretariat. Sources say those in aviation and transport industry want Uganda to fully take over the institution to run parallel to those in Kenyan and Tanzanian Civil Aviation Academies.
Dr. David Kakuba said there is no reason why Uganda should not stick to it given the huge amounts of money government has invested there. He says government only needs to formalizes its legal status and fund its operation.
He says the Civil Aviation Authority would be willing to work with the Ministry of Works and Transport to support the school to receive the International Civil Aviation Certification.
Civil Aviation Authority’ Director of Airports and Aviation Security, John Tusubira Kagoro said his Authority had sought for twenty eight billion shillings to repair the runway at Soroti but it only got 2.1 billion shillings.
With the 2.1 billion shillings according to Kagoro, the Authority did some repairs on the runway. But MPS said the work seemed to be substandard when they visited the School this year.
Kagoro says the improvements made using the 2.1 billion shillings were only meant to sustain the operation of the flying school as the Civil Aviation Authority seeks for money needed to repair the runway.
Ministry of Works and Transport Director of Transport, Kajuna Benono Mwebaze confirmed that Soroti Flying School is faced with problems ranging from the runway, its legal status as well as management issues. He however says the situation is gradually changing with its funding increasing from five to eight billion shillings.
He says the Ministry improved on remuneration of the instructors at the School and acquired new planes to facilitate the training programme.
Mwebaze declined to comment on whether the School should be transferred to EAC secretariat in Arusha. He said all Parliaments should ensure that its legal status is resolved and increase its funding.
In 2014, the EAC Council of Ministers agreed to take it back. On 3 July 2014, the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda agreed in principle to re-instate the East African Civil Aviation Academy as one of the centres of excellence in the EAC.