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Aircraft registry spends millions of dollars on contracts

Thomas Dunstan, the director-general of the BCAA (File photograph)

Almost $5.3 million was spent on a string of contracts by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority last year, the latest figures have revealed.

The news came as the authority announced that the aircraft registry had grown by 13 per cent – 103 aircraft – over the past five years.

Expenditure abroad accounted for more than a third of contract costs last year.

Payments to France-based Bureau Veritas Exploitation for inspection services in countries including Azerbaijan and Tajikistan accounted for $2.3 million.

Thomas Dunstan, the director-general of the BCAA, said that most of the aircraft registered with the organisation were in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

He added: “The offshore aspect of the Bermuda Aircraft Registry is extensive, with over 95 per cent of BCAA safety oversight activity located offshore, mainly in the Russian Federation where 84 per cent of Bermuda registered aircraft are located.

“While the majority of BCAA staff are located in Bermuda, the global extent of the Bermuda Aircraft Registry requires staff to be located around the world to perform required oversight inspections.”

A list of contracts valued at $50,000 or more, published in the Official Gazette, showed that the authority’s agreement with Bureau Veritas covered “airworthiness inspection services in various locations including Azerbaijan, Russia, Tajikistan and Shanghai”.

The company has “representative” offices in Moscow and Shanghai.

Mr Dunstan said: “In addition, BCAA has established an inspector in Shanghai, through Bureau Veritas, to strengthen our presence in Asia.”

He added: “BV has eight airworthiness inspectors located in Moscow and one airworthiness inspector located in Shanghai.

“There are a variety of inspection types conducted and the frequency of these vary by type.

“It is estimated that BV carry out approximately 700 inspections per year.”

The director-general said that the BCAA’s office in Britain had five full-time staff and delivered “mainly airworthiness safety oversight services”.

An agreement with Tag Farnborough Airport Ltd for lease and internet services at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire cost $61,854 last year.

Mr Dunstan said: “This office allows BCAA to provide cost effective service closer to our client base and in addition enables BCAA to engage additional airworthiness expertise not available in Bermuda.”

He added: “The location of the office extends the operating hours of the BCAA due to time zone differences and provides for more cost effective travel to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

“This enhances our ability to maintain required safety oversight responsibilities and allows us to provide a higher level of customer service.

“In addition, there is limited airworthiness expertise in Bermuda, so the BCAA office in the UK has enabled BCAA to engage highly experienced inspectors, many of whom previously worked for the UK Civil Aviation Authority or similar entities.

“It should be noted that BCAA airworthiness inspectors located in Bermuda and the UK can provide the full range of safety oversight services, including the issuance of approvals after an inspection, whereas BV airworthiness inspectors may only conduct inspections as assigned by BCAA.”

The aviation authority is responsible for the regulation of the Bermuda Aircraft Registry, which totalled 859 aircraft at the end of last year.

It oversees all aviation activity for the island, including air traffic management and meteorological services.

The BCAA is responsible for the certification and inspection of Bermuda air operators, the management of dangerous goods and flight permits.

Mr Dunstan said: “BCAA does recover some costs for aerodrome oversight but there is little cost recovery for the provision of other services, which are essentially paid for with the revenue from the Bermuda Aircraft Registry services.”

A continued contract with RBK Advertising cost almost $881,000 last year.

The contract covered “overseas marketing, event management services, brand strategy, advertising and public relations services, website programming and maintenance, social media management”.

Mr Dunstan said that the work included “promotional advertising in a variety of media, managing conference sponsorships” and market research.

Other contracts included more than $99,500 spent with travel agents Travel Edge on “airfare for staff and contracted airworthiness and flight operations inspectors and consultants”.

About $317,000 went to the Bermuda Land Development Company for rent at Channel House in Southside, St David’s.

Mr Dunstan said: “In delivering its services, BCAA is responsible to the Governor in regard to the regulatory and statutory functions it undertakes on behalf of the United Kingdom.

“Business matters are governed by the board of directors, which provides strategic direction to the director-general.

“The Bermuda Aircraft Registry enjoys a high reputation internationally as a safe, well-regulated registry.

“Significant growth in the registry over many years is a reflection of the status of Bermuda as a preferred jurisdiction for certification, with excellent credibility and high standards of regulation.”

He added: “Revenue from the fees charged by the Bermuda Aircraft Registry covers all costs.

“In addition, the registry provides considerable surplus revenue to the Government each year.“

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Published February 01, 2021 at 8:29 am (Updated February 01, 2021 at 8:29 am)

Aircraft registry spends millions of dollars on contracts

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