On 27th February 2017, Kenya was granted Category 1 status by the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States of America hence paving the way for direct flights between the two countries. A Category 1 status rating means that the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) meets International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. The country has been granted the status after complying with international safety standards under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.
IASA assessments determine compliance with these international standards by focusing on eight critical elements (CEs) of an effective aviation safety oversight authority as specified in ICAO’s Safety Oversight Manual.
The IASA program focuses on a country’s ability to adhere to international aviation safety standards and recommended practices contained in Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing), Annex 6 (Operation of Aircraft), and Annex 8 (Airworthiness of Aircraft) to the International Convention on Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
This Article briefly looks at the content of the CE’s that Kenya has been evaluated upon and satisfactorily met in order for the FAA to grant Category 1 status.
- (CE-1) Primary aviation legislation;
This CE assesses whether the country specifically promulgates primary aviation legislation (and amendment procedures) to enable it to implement the provisions of the Chicago Convention and its Annexes. In order to meet the CE, Kenya has recently passed the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act, 2016 which includes amendments related to the Chicago Convention and its Annexes.
- (CE-2) Specific operating regulations;
This section generally looks at the regulations adopted to ensure that international aircraft operations and airworthiness standards are met. The CE also assesses operations and maintenance crew licensing.
- (CE-3) State civil aviation system and safety oversight functions;
This CE looks at the name of the authority charged with civil aviation matters, its organizational structure and roles of each department established thereunder. The CE also evaluates the operations and the airworthiness inspection organizations as structured and whether the authority delegates any safety oversight functions. The CE further evaluates the number and composition of technical staff, technical support staff and clerical staff in the authority and also the administrative support and equipment available to the staff to accomplish certification and continued surveillance activities.
- (CE-4) Technical personnel qualification and training;
The CE assesses whether the authority operates a training centre and also how the resultant written theoretical knowledge examinations are prepared, administered and evaluated. Further it addresses flight test and other practical skills examinations; medical examiners; operations and airworthiness inspectorates and the airworthiness engineering division.
- (CE-5) Technical guidance, tools and the provision of safety critical information;
This CE assesses the access to technical guidance and access to airworthiness documentation.
- (CE-6) Licensing, certification, authorization, and approval obligations;
This CE assesses among other things, the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) regulatory background; the AOC application and inspection process prior to certification; the aircraft lease, charter and interchange arrangements; the licensing or rating application and process; and exchange of continuing airworthiness information.
- (CE-7) Surveillance obligations;
This CE assesses surveillance of certificated operations and their maintenance arrangements; surveillance of aircraft maintenance organisations; surveillance of medical assessments, and the surveillance of aviation training organisations.
- (CE-8) Resolution of safety concerns.
The CE assesses the procedure to be followed when there are deficiencies found in the certification, certificated personnel, and inspection of foreign air operators. The assessment also includes what action is to be taken by the authority if the deficiencies are not corrected within a reasonable period of time.
The CEs are redacted by the KCAA into the various standard checklist forms and an in-country assessment conducted by a specially trained IASA team consisting of a team leader, at least one aviation safety inspector in operations and maintenance, and an FAA international aviation law attorney. The IASA team may rely on other relevant sources in conducting their assessment.
Upon conclusion of the in-country assessment visit, the assessment team returns to the U.S, compiles findings, conducts any final discussions necessary and produces a detailed written report. Once the report is shared with other U.S. Government officials and the KCAA, the FAA publicly releases the assessment results and posts the rating in their website.
The above process has been conducted and has culminated in Kenya being granted a Category 1 rating.
With the Category 1 rating, Kenyan air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and U.S DOT (Department of Transport) authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers. 
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