|FAA to deliver final report on Serbia in July|
The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will publish its final report on whether Serbia meets necessary requirements to be issued a category one safety rating this July, the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate has said. The rating is a prerequisite for the resumption of direct flights between the two countries. Following the FAA’s latest assessment of Serbia’s safety regulations and practices in March, inspectors found the country has largely met US and international safety standards and has adequate infrastructure for international aviation safety oversight as defined by international standards. However, the aviation authority outlined several additional areas that need to be improved before it can finally award Serbia the category one status it lost in 2004. Those regulatory shortcomings are now believed to have been amended and a final decision by the FAA is expected to be made in two months time.
The decision will come at an important time for the country’s aviation sector as Air Serbia looks to launch direct flights from Belgrade to the United States by early 2016 according to Serbia’s Prime Minister, as well as Etihad Airways’ CEO James Hogan. A positive ruling by the FAA this summer would give Air Serbia enough time to prepare for transatlantic flights by 2016. The Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate notes that the FAA’s decision will be handed down in the first half of July. Speaking of Air Serbia’s future long haul plans last week, Mr. Hogan said, “We will launch new routes and Chicago is the first destination we are thinking of. It is a logical choice since it is home not only to the largest Serbian diaspora but also others from the former Yugoslavia”.
The FAA's foreign assessment program focuses on a country's ability, not the individual air carrier, to adhere to international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance established by the United Nation's technical agency for aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Five FAA inspectors evaluated Serbia’s air safety standards, regulations and procedures for five days in late March. The delegation also included representatives from the Department of State as well as experts from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).