Icao tells states to form air accident probe unit

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 8, 2016-

The International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) has urged its contracting states, including Nepal, to constitute a separate authority to investigate air accidents or serious incidents involving public air transport within November 10.

The fourth meeting of the Asia Pacific Accident Investigation Group that concluded in Tokyo, Japan recently advised its member states to form an independent investigation unit as per Amendment 15 to Icao Annex 13. 

“Setting up an independent bureau or commission is a necessity and a requirement of the global aviation watchdog,” said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Aviation Safety Division of the Tourism Ministry. 

“We will be trying to create a proper aircraft accident investigation body; but as it will take some time, we have to make a commitment to Icao within the stipulated time,” said Acharya who participated in the meeting. 

An independent body has become an urgent need. “Our safety situation has become alarming amid the spate of air crashes and accidents,” he said.  

This authority must be independent from any entity whose interests could conflict with or influence the safety investigation authority’s task. The sole objective of accident investigation is to prevent future accidents and incidents. 

Acharya said that they would submit a report of the meeting to the tourism minister and move ahead accordingly. He said that Brunei was the latest country to set up an independent investigation unit and it started with a small unit. “In Nepal’s context, it will take at least two years to constitute a fully functional independent body. But like Brunei, we can start with a small unit,” he said. 

The current practice in Nepal 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. 

“Obviously, 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.” 

Icao has also promised to help Nepal to form an investigation body following glaring safety issues that are often discussed in different forums. 

Nepal has been red-flagged on ‘operations’ among the eight critical elements of safety oversight by Icao due to a large number of aircraft accidents and incidents between 2009 and 2012, with at least two passenger aircraft crashing annually. 

Nepali airlines have been declared unsafe by Icao and banned by the European Commission for the past three years for significant safety deficiencies.

There have been four plane crashes in six months this year. The frequent crashes have spurred the government to address air safety issues after regulatory shortcomings became glaringly apparent. 

India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh among South Asian countries have established separate independent investigation bodies. 

Published: 08-09-2016 09:45

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