Independent aircraft accident probe body to be established
- aviation safety
Currently, investigations into aircraft accidents are carried out as per the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accident) Regulation 2014, and aircraft accidents and incidents come under the purview of the government
Sep 4, 2017-The government has begun work to establish an independent aircraft accident investigation body as part of international obligations to improve aviation safety and prevent accidents in the future.
The independent agency will probe accidents and incidents and recommend ways to prevent them in the future and improve aviation services by identifying causative factors.
A committee formed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation recently submitted a report suggesting appropriate organizational, financial and administrative modalities. The committee has proposed setting up a bureau, commission, branch or unit, whichever is appropriate, said Subarna Raj Bhattarai, a ministry official.
With respect to the financial modality, the government will put up the seed money in a separate safety fund. “The government can collect a service charge from airlines, airports, the Nepal Tourism Board and other sources to keep the safety fund running.”
The report has proposed hiring a chief investigator. The body will have a pool of experts who will act as investigators. The report has proposed a body of eight to 10 members.
Ministry officials said that the draft report would be sent to the Finance Ministry to obtain its views regarding funding, and to the Ministry of General Administration for its views regarding staffing. Currently, investigations into aircraft accidents are carried out as per the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accident) Regulation 2014, and aircraft accidents and incidents come under the purview of the government.
The usual practice is to form an ad hoc investigation committee immediately after an accident occurs, but the reports produced by such government panels are often criticized for hiding shortcomings.
“The body must be independent from any entity whose interests could conflict with or influence the safety investigation authority’s task,” said officials. If a permanent independent body is set up, it will be headed by a group of experts, and this will ensure a high level of efficiency and quality of investigation which is vital to improve aviation safety in Nepal.
According to Annex-13—Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation of the manual of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), each member state is required to establish an independent organization to conduct investigations into aircraft accidents and incidents that come within the jurisdiction of the state.
In order to realize the above objective of the investigation, Icao member states are required to establish an authority with sufficient autonomy and financial strength for effective conduct of the investigations.
In July, Icao removed the significant safety concerns (SSC) tag it had put on Nepal four years ago. The latest audit has given Nepal a score of 66 percent for effective implementation of safety standards, way above the global standard of 60 percent.
However, Nepal has performed poorly on accident and incident investigation with a score of 20.4 percent for effective implementation of accident and incident investigation as compared to the global average of 55.54 percent.
“If the government had constituted an independent aircraft accident investigation body, Nepal’s score for effective implementation of safety standards would have been above 70 percent,” said an official of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. “An independent investigation body has been talked about for nearly a decade.”
There are eight critical elements that Icao considers essential for a state to establish, implement and maintain in order to have an effective national safety oversight system.
They include primary legislation, organisation and safety oversight functions, personnel licensing, aircraft operations, airworthiness, aerodromes, air navigation system and accident and incident investigation.
Icao experts had audited legislation, organisation, operations and airworthiness. Accident and incident investigation did not come into the scope due to the unsatisfactory progress made by Nepal.
Published: 04-09-2017 08:40