Audit uncovers CAA’s negligence in Addu flight school issue

Planes used at Asian Academy of Aeronautics in Addu City. (Photo/AAA)

A performance audit of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reveals the authority had been grossly negligent in regulating the Asian Academy of Aeronautics (AAA) - which had run the flight school in Addu City. 

The performance audit in question was prepared by the Transport Ministry in January to access the extent to which CAA had been regulating AAA. 

The audit revealed CAA had not established an up-to-date policy to take action for violations of CAA’s regulations by the flight school, and it took unnecessarily long for the authority to establish a policy for fines for violation of regulations. 

The audit also found CAA stalled taking appropriate action after judging the potential damage to students if the school was to ground its flights and suspend operations given it was the only flight school in Maldives would be greater, but the damage due to lack of action had been far greater. 

The audit revealed CAA failed to properly monitor the flight school’s fleet, and the authority’s audit in 2018, when the school had been using a single aircraft for commercial license, failed to note the potential impact on the aircraft’s capacity if it had to be grounded for maintenance. 

The audit found CAA failed to solve the issue when the records of AAA’s students were being accessed in violation of its regulations. 

The audit also found that though the Higher Education Ministry looked into individual complaints, it failed to take proactive measures to protect the rights of students. 

Planes used at Asian Academy of Aeronautics in Addu City. (Photo/Addu Live)

CAA was also found to have been negligent in ensuring the instructor-to-student ratio was maintained. The audit found CAA did not have a standard method for calculating the instructor-to-student ratio, did not maintain the paperwork on the calculations, and failed to follow the recommendations of an audit to correct the issue. 

CAA has been recommended to establish a policy to take action if operators fail to submit plans to correct issues found in airworthiness reviews within the given timeframe, to identify operators that repeatedly violate aviation regulations, monitor their operations closely, and establish a special strategy which can be applied where appropriate. 

CAA has also been recommended to establish policies for refunding students who are unable to complete their courses, and set audit procedures which take into account the number of new students who join approved training organizations, and the number of aircrafts the organizations have to train students.  

After the situation with the Addu flight school escalated, AAA signed over ownership of the flight school to Avid College, and the college inaugurated the Avid School of Aviation on June 24. 

Avid College took over ownership of the flying school following months of complaints from students of mismanagement at the school, resulting in their courses being drawn out. 

However, Avid College terminated the agreement on September 18, citing lack of cooperation from relevant authorities to reopen the school.