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Establishment of the Pacific Aviation Safety Office Project (Pacific Region)

sector: Transport | country: | region: Regional

The project is unique among ADB interventions in the Pacific. It involved setting up a regional organization from scratch, using a regional loan guaranteed by four Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) members. While the concept was innovative, the first lesson is that a regional project can raise a variety of new issues. Inception was delayed by lengthy procedures for parliamentary approval of two of the guarantees. As of 2011, there is a risk that the organization could eventually fail unless a secure funding basis can be established in the near future. Longer-term counterpart support needs to be built into the project design, so that short-term funding crises do not dominate operations and threaten the ability of the institution to offer technical services.

Technical cooperation has required the use of best-practice systems and highly experienced professional staff from more developed countries. The development of regional expertise will take many years and require additional resources, if Pacific developing member countries (DMCs) expect to localize these positions. This environment requires flexibility in PASO staffing and structure to enable adjustments. A significant advantage of PASO, unlike the alternative of contracting other countries’ inspection services, is that member countries receive dedicated professional advice and administrative backup to facilitate such improvements.

Strong management and strategic thinking are prerequisites for establishing a sound and viable institution. The early management of PASO was weak. More support was needed to help it put necessary systems in place earlier in the project period. Some member states expressed the need to further improve financial management in terms of adequacy and transparency. The PASO council has the potential to provide needed support through its finance and technical committees but has not yet fully leveraged those capabilities.

The introduction of new aviation systems into regional and national organizations needs to be subjected to in-depth systems analysis to ensure that the systems are appropriate to the environment. Also, it is necessary to provide sufficient, continued capacity development and training to retain the use of the system and improve it.

The concept of regional cooperation in technically demanding sectors is sound. The project concept of developing the coordinated provision of technical services to small and poorly resourced states has been proven. The project has helped develop similar regional activities in Asia and Africa by demonstrating feasibility to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other international organizations.

Institutional lessons arise from the need for cooperation on the part of governments, airlines, and international agencies in reforming and harmonizing the regulatory and legislative environment. ICAO has already recognized PASO as a legitimate international organization and will exercise quality control through the regular Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program and Universal Security Audit Program in each country. Governments need to ensure continuing cooperation between aviation ministries and other ministries responsible for drafting and enacting legislation and for providing finance. The benefits of harmonization are clear to airlines.

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