In accordance with the Chicago Convention (the International Agreement governing international civil aviation operations), herein after referred to as the Convention; a State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. Nevertheless, on adhering to the Convention, a State agrees to certain principles and arrangements in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner. Under Articles 12 and 37 of the Convention, States must collaborate to the highest degree to achieve standardization and harmonization in aviation safety and security regulations, rules, standards, procedures and practices.
ICAO – the International Civil Aviation Organisation, has implemented a large number of projects over several decades to improve civil aviation safety and security in many developing States. However, despite these efforts as well as numerous initiatives designed to help States meet their safety and security oversight responsibilities, in many regions a number of States have failed to develop the capability for aviation safety and security oversight. The main reason identified for this situation is lack of adequate resources, specifically in terms of qualified technical expertise. This has led ICAO to conclude that regional or sub regional safety oversight organizations may be required to overcome this problem through shared objectives, strategies and activities and, most importantly, that they would enable Member States to pool resources and thus be able to attract, recruit and retain appropriately qualified and experienced personnel. In addition to working together, Contracting States of a region or sub region can have a more persuasive voice on the world stage and can help secure a more favourable climate aimed at a safer international air transportation system.
Effective regional cooperation requires an organizational structure for the establishment and management of a regional safety oversight system. Membership in one of these organizations provides several benefits. States can produce economies of scale leading to increased efficiency due to the possibility of sharing and pooling of human and financial resources. Regional programmes can be more effective through joint action, where they can address external factors and constraints more effectively. Participant States will also increase their capacity to develop harmonized regulations adapted to their local environment and in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). In the international arena, the existence and effective operation of regional organizations is a demonstration of regional solidarity and increases the involvement of individual States in aviation activities relating to the region or sub region.
The East African Community (EAC) Partner States of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with the support of the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took on this initiative and embarked on the roadmap for the establishment of a Regional Safety Oversight Organization on the ICAO proposed framework stipulated in ICAO Document 9734 Part B – The Establishment and Management of a Safety Oversight System, however, with the element of security added on.
On 18th April 2007, following fruitful deliberations by civil aviation and legal experts of the EAC, the EAC Council of Ministers approved the establishment of the EAC Civil Aviation Safety and Security Agency (CASSOA) as an autonomous self-accounting institution of the Community and appointed its first Executive Director – Mr. Mtesigwa Maugo (Tanzania) , the Technical Coordinator – Mr. Robert Mwesigwa Nviiri (Uganda), and the Office Management Assistant – Mrs. Lillian Mwenda (Kenya), and the first Board complement comprising the then three Heads of Civil Aviation Authorities of the Partner States. Thereafter, CASSOA commenced operations on 1st June 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania, at the seat of the East African Community Secretariat.