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Turkey’s Local and International Civil Aviation Potential Soars The Future is in the Skies

Issue 1 - 2019
In an exclusive interview Mr. Bahri Kesici, Director General of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) discusses the aim strengthen Turkey’s position through bilateral cooperation. Turkish Civil Aviation Academy has the capacity to fulfill Turkey’s training requirements for the countries of the region.
Aviation Turkey: Dear Mr. Kesici, first of all we would like to thank you for your time. As the Director General of the DGCA, last year we conducted an interview with you for our sister magazine Defence Turkey. This time, we come together once more for the first issue of Aviation Turkey magazine. During the past one-year period, Istanbul Airport officially launched its services after the great move. You assumed a critical role in this process as the DGCA. Could you please share with us your activities regarding the airport certification in line with the international civil aviation rules and the terminal licensing, the difficulties you faced, the solutions you put forward as well as the experiences you gained?

Bahri Kesici: Firstly, I would like to wish all the success to Aviation Turkey Magazine which recently started its publication life. Our move to Istanbul Airport was a process closely followed by the world and required extreme attention, and our country achieved this successfully. In addition to the physical changing of the location to which we refer as the “great move” without doubt this process is the outcome of a grand endeavor that required coordinated and simultaneous planning of various processes such as operational preparation stages and launching the airport to the flights. As the Directorate General, prior to the opening, we exerted great efforts in order to maintain that all standards were and continue to be provided at the maximum level, with examinations and maintenance supervision of the airport providing its services in accordance with the international safety and security standards.

We conducted many activities in various areas of civil aviation, such as the authorization of the enterprises during the opening process of the Istanbul Airport, licensing, airport certification, aviation security and cargo operations. While launching the legislation and the required legal regulations, our Directorate General conducted the airport certification process for maintaining the launch of the airport in line with the international standards. The DGCA’s certification commission finalized the process by tracking all the requirements regarding the physical conditions of the airport, security, aviation safety and navigation services fields every day for four months and prior to its launch on October 29, 2018, the license was delivered to the operator by our Dear Minister M. Cahit Turhan.

Of course, we faced challenges, actually time was the greatest difficulty, on the other hand the ongoing construction at certain parts was also a challenge but we managed to overcome these through building close coordination with the Local Authorities, General Directorate of State Airports Authority, IGA, THY and with other airlines. In this way we accumulated great experiences as well.

Aviation Turkey: In respect to passenger and cargo transportation, we observe that the number of aircraft in Turkey increased by 200% in the last fifteen years, exceeding 500 and that in parallel the number of passengers and cargo capacity are continuously increasing. Upon the launch of the first two phases, what are your assessments on the impacts of Istanbul Airport which was structured as a global Aviation Hub in 2019 and in the future?

Bahri Kesici: The year 2003 and the following years deemed the Istanbul Airport a necessity as many critical advances were achieved in civil aviation in our country and the developments in civil aviation came to a point of explosion, yet we were facing capacity problems in Istanbul, particularly at the Atatürk Airport.

In fact, the launch of the Istanbul Airport is a new milestone for the Turkish Civil Aviation. When all phases are completed it will be the world’s greatest airport at the center of global civil aviation. By the end of 2019 and thereafter, Istanbul’s central position for passengers and cargo in the world will be certified and we will witness development with a continuous impetus. In the following process, Istanbul will become a crucial center of attraction in Global Civil Aviation.

Actually, this airport was built as a city, and with the employment opportunities it provided and its contribution to our country’s tourism and economy, the fact that it’s a center of global civil aviation and as a mark in our country’s civil aviation history, Istanbul Airport is enshrined in our history.

Aviation Turkey: By achieving growth at a record-breaking level of 428 percent in the last 15 years, as of 2018 we’ve arrived at a point where we are capable of reaching 318 points in 124 countries in cargo and passenger transportation in international flights. What are your comments on the sustainability of this development this year?

Bahri Kesici: The performance and record-breaking growth figures of our country’s aviation sector in the last 15 years are the outcomes of the courageous and correct steps taken by our Dear President and government. With the liberalization of domestic and international flights and the investments made in the civil aviation infrastructure on one hand, the adoption of the “air ways nation’s ways” policy on the other, Turkish Airlines has become the airline conducting flights to the highest number of countries in the world. In addition to THY, our other airlines increased the number of destinations they conduct flights to in a record-breaking level during this process and became companies with strong competitive power in our region and in the world. Overcoming the turbulence experienced in 2016 without any damage, our industry rapidly recovered and, in a sense passed a crucial endurance and flexibility test successfully. In 2017, the figures of 2016 were exceeded and the year 2018 witnessed a remarkable 210 million passengers. It is possible to say that for 2019 with what we acquired in the last period through negotiations and with the momentum brought by the Istanbul Airport, we expect to surpass the figure of 2018. Our Istanbul Airport gained flexibility in terms of planning and operations to our airlines with a capacity increase by nearly 25% compared with the Atatürk Airport while with the elimination of slot problems it started to host new foreign airlines. Currently, with the full launch of Istanbul Airport, 7 new airlines from 6 different countries started flying to Istanbul. As Directorate General of Civil Aviation, with the consciousness of regulating a very dynamic and rapidly growing sector, our activities towards fulfilling the demands of our airlines as well as offering comfortable alternatives to our citizens and developing the flight networks of our airlines through bilateral negotiations continue in 2019. In this respect, we expect the second half of 2019 to be very intense.

Aviation Turkey: Could you please tell about the latest developments acquired as a result of bilateral negotiations conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the recent status regarding the increase in direct flights between capital cities within this scope?

Bahri Kesici: During previous years, our country hosted the Turkey - Africa and Turkey - America conferences and many Air Transportation Agreements were signed. As a result, Africa has become the continent with the highest number of new flights conducted from our country. The flights to Central and Latin American countries have started to increase as well. Europe is already the continent with the highest number of flights conducted. Presently, within the framework of bilateral negotiations, our priority is the countries where no flights or an insufficient number of flights are conducted by our airlines. To this end, South East Asian and Middle Asian countries have been a focus for us in terms of the air transportation agreements in the latest period. When we particularly take into consideration the population power and economic growth level especially in the South East Asia region and our relations with the friendly and sister societies in the Middle East as well as the economic opportunities, the activities of our airlines were deemed more crucial. Within this scope, we have already made quite significant acquisitions primarily in the Middle East Region, Azerbaijan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan. The number of flights with the 3 aforementioned countries and our country have doubled or tripled compared to 2017. In order to reach the same achievement with South East Asian countries, our contacts and activities continue in a coordinated manner, with our relevant institutions and associations.

In concern with the capital cities, I would like to state that we are trying to persuade our counterparts on this subject by referring to the importance of flights between the capital cities in each of our bilateral negotiation discussions. In this respect, there is the Kiev - Ankara line in which we reached an agreement and in which the flights continue in an orderly manner, and the Baku - Ankara line could also be regarded as exemplary lines in which the flights that recently started are being executed successfully. Moreover, the recently launched lines such as Ankara - Rome, Ankara - London, Ankara - Paris, Ankara - Frankfurt may be given as examples toward the crucial steps taken in this respect. Connecting our capital city Ankara directly with the capital cities of other countries will continue to be one of our most critical priorities in the upcoming period as well.

Aviation Turkey: The DGCA seems to involve industrial activities in the scope of its bilateral negotiations as well. For instance, the consensus reached with Russia and Brazil in 2018, the negotiations launched with Ukraine and China indicate that both academic and industrial cooperation is going to be developed. What are your comments on the current status and for the future, within this context?

Bahri Kesici: As is known, we gather periodically with various countries to discuss air transportation issues when required and where negotiations on civil aviation are executed. Especially in the recent period, we have been exerting efforts to transform these platforms in which merely commercial issues are negotiated into platforms where multi - dimensional cooperation could be reached.

Now, at this point at which we have arrived, our Directorate General started conducting activities in terms of both internal structuring and institutional cooperation, and international bilateral and multiple relations in productive aviation instead of just consumptive aviation. Within the scope of such activities, in addition to commercial issues, negotiations are being executed with the responding countries on areas such as the mutual recognition of certificates, security, safety and maintenance, with cooperation purposes and from time to time these negotiations are finalized by the signing of agreements. In 2018, agreements on technical cooperation and mutual recognition of certificates were signed with South Korea, Brazil and the Russian Federation, and we plan to sign a contract with Ukraine in June, and to sign a similar agreement as soon as possible with China with whom we continue to negotiate.

Our efforts launched in 2018 to establish international academic cooperation continue rapidly with the help of our Turkish Civil Aviation Academy which has the capacity to fulfill the training requirements of both our country and the countries of the region. The training provided to the countries of near regions and African countries with which we built close relations in line with the ICAO’s “Leave no country behind” principle and the cooperation conducted compose the first steps taken in our activities. In terms of maintenance, our country is regarded as a critical maintenance center with its experienced engineers, technicians and modern maintenance facilities. We aim to strengthen our position again with the bilateral cooperation in this context.

Aviation Turkey: Beyond the usual governmental practice, the DGCA’s cooperation with certain associations with the capability of supporting the development of the aviation industry started to appear at the agenda. It was underlined that the DGCA will be developing activities in “Productive Aviation” as much as “Consumptive Aviation” and announced that the DGCA signed cooperation protocols with STM, TrTest and Teknopark Ankara. Within the scope of the protocols signed, in which areas will cooperation be made and how will the industry benefit from this cooperation? What would you like to say about the schedule of the activities to be conducted in the short and medium term?

Bahri Kesici: The development in aviation is not a topic to be assessed merely based on statistics regarding airway transportation. In recent years, our country has made remarkable progress in the aviation industry by launching many indigenous projects on air vehicle design and production processes as well. We reached a level of capability where we are able to manufacture and certify air vehicles with our associations active in this area. In the essence of this development, the extension of existing facilities through cooperation and joint activities is as important as much as the sharing of knowledge. With this understanding, as the Directorate General by cooperating with our associations, we exert efforts to take the steps required towards the sustainable growth of aviation.

This year, within the scope of the main protocol that we signed with STM, we launched three cooperation agreements in the areas of “cyber security”, “aviation safety” and “air worthiness”. On account of this main protocol, we reached an understanding on the main cooperation areas mainly in training, accomplishment of joint R&D activities, technology development and execution and design, production and sales of the products as well as the identification of the strategies of processes. This agreement is in fact a framework agreement and based on this agreement, we signed protocols for more concrete cooperation on these three areas I mentioned. For instance, in accordance with the Cyber Security Cooperation Agreement, a joint working group will be established, and we will be conducting joint activities in cyber security operations, penetration tests, cyber intelligence and cyber security training. Our cooperation in the area of Aviation Safety is composed of subjects such as safety devices and technologies and the certification of these technologies, security training, risk and threat assessment, explosive detection dogs, behavior analysis, scanner competences and certification, awareness raising of passengers, biometrical systems and machine-readable travel documents. Regarding the area of air worthiness, the execution of technical consultancy activities exist to strengthen our Directorate General’s certification infrastructure, supporting the activities to be conducted as part of enlightening the sector and our cooperation with international workgroups.

As you know, TRtest is a company built with the partnership of our institutions such as the SSB, TSE, TÜBİTAK and TSKGV and companies such as STM for the efficient utilization of Turkey’s existing test infrastructure. This company has been structured in a way to fill a critical gap in our country in terms of the establishment and operation of the compatibility evaluation infrastructures such as analysis, certification, calibration and qualification. Within this scope, we also signed a protocol with TRtest in order to build cooperation in the test and evaluation processes required in the aviation area. In the area of Aviation Safety, cooperation will be made in areas such as the establishment of test and certification centers for security devices, maintaining the accreditation of these centers to the ECAC, capability reporting to the civil aviation authorities in foreign countries of the test centers to be established in Turkey, safety devices and technologies and the certification of these technologies, design and production certification of the calibration testing material for security equipment, Anti - Drone system tests and certification. Moreover, we signed a cooperation protocol with Teknopark Ankara in the area of “Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems”. This cooperation protocol envisions joint activities in aviation safety, cyber security, certification/air worthiness consultancy services, UAV/autonomous system solutions and civil aviation safety areas.

Actually, through the aforementioned activities we aim to strengthen the technological and industrial bases of Turkish Civil Aviation, increase our internal and international potential as well as take our share from these areas. What is essential is to achieve this target.

Aviation Turkey: At this point, attention needs to be drawn to the point that Turkey reached in the design, production and utilization of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. You have recently organized a conference on the legal regulations regarding UAV operations as well. Could you please tell about the details of the content of the legislation update which is soon to be implemented?

Bahri Kesici: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Systems have become an area in civil aviation with increasing importance. We witness the extension of the areas of UAV utilization in the fulfilment of certain services in our daily lives. The number of UAV pilots in our country reached 35 thousand by the end of last year and the number of UAVs reached 27 thousand. 7 thousand more UAVs were added to the registries of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation just within a year, while the number of UAV pilots displayed record breaking growth by increasing to 13 thousand.

In addition to the increase in the number of UAVs and their operators, we witness an expansion in their production and new areas of utilization. Besides their utilization for civilian and commercial purposes, the usage of UAVs in military, security and intelligence areas, as well as public services such as customs and the fight against forest fires is rapidly increasing. This requires the immediate launch of systematic studies, training, risk analysis and legal regulations about UAVs. The numbers of our associations providing UAV training reached 29 by the end of 2018 and only last year over 10 seminars and panels were held by our UAV Coordination Unit in cooperation with universities and authorized organizations. The activities towards the regulation of standards by the international aviation associations regarding the security and safety risks of UAVs are underway. The DGCA launched the risk assessment implementation regarding UAV Systems in order to minimize such risks. Pilots have to conduct a risk analysis in order to determine whether the flights they planned are at an acceptable safety level or not.

We made significant progress by launching our activities regarding the regulations and legislative studies for UAVs before many countries in the world. As I mentioned previously, in line with the protocol we signed with Teknopark Ankara on UAV systems, we decided to cooperate on UAV certification activities, preparation of UAV design and production standards, development of the facilities and infrastructure, development of national and international standards, identification of autonomous flight requirement standards and their tests, identification of common cyber security criteria specific to UAV systems and in respect of the legislation activities required and we are executing them.

Within this scope, we prepared a draft directive that reregulates the UAV directive. One of the most crucial novelties in this legislative change is enabling enterprises that fulfil the criteria brought by the definition of UAV Operator to become UAV Operators, just like the airlines. A certificate of Light UAV Operator will be issued to enterprises fulfilling the requirements, and a definition for a Light UAV Operator that contains certain exemptions was made. To the authorized UAV Training Associations, the obligation to acquire a “Private UAV Pilot Training Course Opening License” from the Ministry of National Education will be imposed and universities will be exempted from this obligation. Another critical change is the removal of crowded, very crowded and uncrowded zone definitions and placement of green zone, zone subject to special permit (red), zone subject to license and no - fly zone definitions. Moreover, with the new regulation, the local authorities, General Staff and DHMI officials in coordination will be registered in the UAV Registration System and their coordination will be enabled over the system, thus reducing the response time for UAV flight permit applications.

Aviation Turkey: There will be a remarkable increase in employment with the opening of the Istanbul Airport as well. Which activities are planned to be conducted in order to support this increase? Could you please share your road map regarding this point with us?

Bahri Kesici: Fulfilment of the requirements and expectations of the aviation sector and covering the increasing need for qualified staff are amongst the most critical issues regarding aviation. The ICAO approaches these issues with great sensitivity. Our aviation sector is getting ready for a new employment boom with the new airport. With the first phase of the Istanbul Airport, the annual employment of 100 thousand people is projected and with the launch of the full capacity in 2025, employment will reach 225 thousand people. Its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of our country is expected to be around 4.9% at the same time. Therefore, in terms of achieving sustainable growth in aviation, in addition to extending the civil aviation departments in our universities with the cooperation we made with YÖK (Council of Higher Education) in relation with human resources requirements, we aim to contribute to the increasing need for qualified labor with the training we will provide under the auspices of the Turkish Civil Aviation Academy. With its capacity of providing training to an annual number of around 2 thousand domestic and foreign trainees, we aim for our Training Center to be built with EU funds to become a leader in civil aviation training in the Middle East, African and Asian countries. In addition to the training we will provide as the DGCA, many universities, academies and special training institutions have been providing civil aviation training required by our country. This issue is linked with market forces and fulfilling the demand and opening to the world are amongst our targets.

Aviation Turkey: In line with the ICAO’s slogan of “no country left behind”, you opened the Turkish Civil Aviation Academy (TCAA) (EU funded project) which will be utilized for the development of Turkey and the countries of the region in aviation training and security areas. During this process, how was the year 2018 in terms of the trainers’ training and the training provided to domestic and foreign trainees?

Bahri Kesici: The activities accomplished in the first year of the Turkish Civil Aviation Academy can be evaluated under four main categories. A large portion of these activities are those related with the establishment of the facility conducted to render the academy building and campus fully operational. All the processes and operations required for the final acceptance of the academy facilities which were provisionally accepted during the opening were fulfilled under the supervision of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit and the DGCA. The first of these operations was the process of enabling the completion of the deficiencies identified during the provisional acceptance of the building by the contractor company. At the same time, the full accomplishment of the protocol, all the equipment, furniture, workplace safety and security devices, facility safety equipment and the related maintenance and support contracts were maintained. Also, throughout this period, a radar training center for the training of the air traffic staff was established. The academy campus grounds were afforested, and the landscape was supported with components such as park benches, gazebos and the TCAA was turned into a green campus. Finally, the TCAA was transformed into a sustainable training ecosystem that provides the most modern and disabled friendly and environmentally friendly solutions conducive to a healthy ‘atmosphere’ which functions as a critical component overall.

In addition to facility establishment activities, great efforts were exerted in terms of issues such as facility management and institutionalization. Areas such as the successful implementation of a quality management system, the establishment of relevant procedures, documentation, staff employment and corporate communication and brand management were also main areas of focus. Besides the aforementioned points, activities on training design and management were conducted as well. At the point of training design, the TCAA Trainers Pool started to be built and focus was given to the establishment of the legislation and processes required for the authorization of such trainers. During the period we accomplished numerous national training activities that were realized by the TCAA, and in international arena, training on various subjects were provided to the staff of the Civil Aviation Authorities in countries of the region such as Azerbaijan, Kirghizstan and Macedonia. As of the second quarter of 2019, the TCAA will launch its own training. Furthermore, as part of the protocol made with Turkish Airlines, TCAA hosted numerous training activities and the foundation for the international recognition of our Academy started to be laid with training and workshops that were held jointly with institutions such as the ECAC, the ICAO0, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

It is appropriate to mention that the TCAA has hosted many activities regarding representation and foreign affairs in addition to its activities in building bilateral relations. Many executive level authorities such as our Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, foreign delegations at Ministerial level, EU Delegation Embassy, the ICAO delegation were hosted, and the academy hosted certain aviation negotiations conducted by the DGCA with other countries. The academy also took part as a critical factor in areas of cooperation in the aforesaid negotiations. Additionally, the exams realized by our Directorate General are being held at the Exam Center of the DGCA within the Academy. Finally, in order to give a statistical figure, within the last year, as a result of all activities held within the borders of the academy, the TCAA hosted a total of twenty thousand people.

Aviation Turkey: The Turkish Civil Aviation started coming up on the agenda with its aviation safety implementations, the details of which are not quite known by the general public. Its appearance especially in international regulation platforms and its implementations (cyber security survey, etc.) were referenced in the invitations and publications for the ECAC and the ICAO meetings. What are your activities in the area of aviation security, in respect to the organization of a new academic and industrial sector for Turkey?

Bahri Kesici: In 2016, within the scope of our Directive regarding Institutional Cyber Incidents (SHT - SİBER), we issued our circular on the establishment of the Institutional Cyber Incidents Intervention Centers that are required for developing defense capabilities in institutions and associations active in aviation sector against cyber-attacks. This, in fact, was the first and most critical step taken towards the organization of the sector in the cyber security area, following the aforementioned Directive. Then, a joint study group was established in compliance with the Cyber Security Cooperation Agreement we signed last year with STM, and we pursued cooperation in cyber security operations, penetration tests, cyber intelligence and SOC (Cyber Operation Center) services, cyber security training services and execution of joint activities at international platforms. Turkey has covered critical ground as indicated by our implementations such as the cyber security survey, etc. and the presentations we make at international organizations as well as our acceptance to the cyber security task forces ICAO and ECAC.

Aviation Turkey: Another distinctive development about the DGCA are the air vehicle certification activities, compared to the previous years. Could you please share with us the developments projected to be achieved in industrial activities with the certification group, the organizational structure of which was improved with the latest regulations?

Bahri Kesici: One of the areas in which we achieved critical progress is our activities executed regarding air vehicle certifications. In line with the aviation infrastructure and increasing international capabilities of our country, we aim to develop our aviation and space industries further and wish to become a technology manufacturing, developing and exporting country instead of one that imports technology. To this end, we primarily aim to extend the Aviation Certification Experts Team under our Directorate General which will operate in this area. Our first group of aviation certification experts took office in November 2018. In compliance with the rules of International Civil Aviation, the air vehicle certification processes are conducted by the Civil Aviation Authorities of the manufacturer countries and the process is completed with the recognition of these certifications by other authorities. Our Directorate General has reached a capacity to execute the certification of the indigenously designed and produced air vehicles within this process. We executed the certification process of HÜRKUŞ, and the certification process of the T625 Utility Helicopter is underway. Within this scope, our execution of all processes by strengthening our certification capability as well as our air vehicle designing, and manufacturing capacities bear great importance in terms of gaining indigenous air vehicles to our aviation sector and the development of our aviation industry.

Within the framework of the protocol we signed in the area of “Air Worthiness” with TR Air Worthiness Services Inc., we decided to build cooperation in the areas that will create added value in the aviation sector of our country, such as air worthiness, certification processes of the air vehicle products, parts and devices. In this way, we maintained the legal basis required for joint activities in projects that require civil certification, most recently with the example of the T625 Indigenous Helicopter (GÖKBEY) Project conducted by TUSAŞ.

While we are utilizing our own facilities for certification, we also aim to develop the existing certification potential of our country.

Aviation Turkey: Dear Mr. Kesici, what would you like to say as a final remark to the readers of Aviation Turkey?

Bahri Kesici: While aviation is a mysterious and exciting realm attracting everyone since their childhood, flying has always been the greatest passion of humankind since their first existence. Especially, our young readers should never lose contact with this mysterious realm; they should at least enjoy it as a hobby. There are many flying schools and aeronautics faculties in our country, either recreational or amateur flying activities take place frequently and everyone can enjoy this passion in a different way. My advice to the readers is that they should try to participate in these types of events to the maximum level, often read and follow such publications and encourage their children in this area which as has a bright future as well. Nowadays, aviation is a compulsory transportation method instead of a luxury mode of transportation, unmanned air vehicles are now inevitable devices in many areas and airports have become life centers instead of merely landing/take off runways, so we should be reading more about aviation and allocate more time to it in our lives. Each of our young citizens should consider themselves as a young wing within the framework of Atatürk’s famous saying, “the Future is in the Skies” and they should actively participate in all types of activities concerning aviation. Hereby, I would like to remind our readers to attend the Teknofest 2019 events blending technology and aviation that will be conducted at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport on September

17-22, 2019


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