Separate air accident body in the offing | Sunday Observer

Separate air accident body in the offing

The fully independent and impartial Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will soon be functional, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAA) H.M.C. Nimalsiri told the Sunday Observer.

“They will be fully qualified, independent experts not connected with the CAA,” Nimalsiri said.

The new body will be akin to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the US but pertaining to accidents involving aircraft only.

It will have the power to investigate any air accidents in Sri Lankan airspace involving local or foreign aircraft and any ground-based accidents involving aircraft at airports.

In addition investigators would participate in overseas investigations of accidents / incidents involving aircraft registered in Sri Lanka or aircraft which are operated by an operator of Sri Lanka as appropriate.

Nimalsiri said this was a long-felt need for Sri Lanka. Right now, the CAA investigates any accidents in Sri Lankan airspace, but the AAIB will overcome current problems such as lack of personnel and capacity since it is a specialized institution.

This body will be able to determine the causes of any accident by going through flight deck audio, Flight Data Recorders (Black Boxes), Air Traffic Control (ATC) transcripts and any other available records. It will also work closely with manufacturers of aircraft and engines to determine the causes of accidents and recommend any necessary safety measures.

The Cabinet approved the formation of the AAIB last year. “It is essential to establish an independent institution to investigate aircraft accidents in each country that are members of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Sri Lanka is also a member of the convention.

Its objective is to improve the security of aviation services, prevent possible accidents in the future, and to make recommendations for the improvement of aviation services by identifying factors for such incidents. According to the Civil Aviation Act No. 14 of 2010 the power to investigate on aircraft accidents occurred within the Sri Lankan territory is vested with the Civil Aviation Authority.

According to the responsibility bound by the above convention the proposal made by Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, to draft legislations to establish the Independent Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to act in this regard, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.”

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has earlier urged its contracting states, including those in South Asia, to constitute a separate authority to investigate air accidents or serious incidents involving public air transport. India already has an AAIB. 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.

Several air accidents and emergency landings are reported in Sri Lanka every year. A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner carrying 200 passengers between Bangkok and Doha made an emergency landing in Colombo on Friday after a fire was reported on board.