Libya recertifies main carriers but grounds several others

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Libyan authorities aim to complete recertification of Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines by the end of this year, but all of the country's operators remain excluded from European airspace despite progress on safety improvements.

The ban was imposed voluntarily and originally set to run to 22 November. But the air safety committee which governs the European Commission's blacklist is keeping pressure on the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority.

Sixteen of Libya's 26 carriers have been stripped of their air operator's certificates, among them Libyan Air Cargo, Tobruk Air Transport and Air One Nine.

The authority told the air safety committee in October that all the country's airlines are undergoing a five-stage recertification process, beginning with Afriqiyah and Libyan Airlines, and that an annual oversight system will be implemented to ensure continued ICAO compliance.

Afriqiyah also informed the committee that, in the wake of its fatal Airbus A330-200 crash at Tripoli in May 2010, it had recruited external specialists to improve operational safety.

While the investigation has yet to conclude - the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority says intends to publish the final report before February 2013 - the carrier has implemented a pilot-training programme focused on go-around procedures and modified flight schedules to reduce pilot fatigue.

"The [Libyan CAA] stated clearly that unsafe operations would not be tolerated," says detailed documentation accompanying the European blacklist revision. To back up its claim the authority cited its temporary grounding of an Airbus A320.

Libyan Airlines told the committee that it had improved its safety-management processes and its crew training. Restrictions on European flights will remain in place until certification is completed and significant findings closed, whereupon individual carriers could be permitted to reinstate operations.

Recertification for the remaining Libyan operators will be completed by December 2013. The air safety committee says it is "encouraged" by the Libyan authority's "sound plan" and "realistic timescales" as well as progress made on safety.