Accident Investigation Critical to Air Safety, Says Ex-AIB Chief

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Chinedu Eze

A former Head of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Angus Ozoka, has said that accident investigation is critical to the overall safety in flight operations because the industry depends on the recommendations made by the agency to prevent future accidents.

He said that the objective of AIB is not to witch-hunt airlines but to help them fly safely.

Ozoka who hosted the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) team that audited the Nigerian aviation industry as pioneer Commissioner/CEO of the AIB in 2007, said that accident investigation is a painstaking work, which procedure and processes are not exposed to media propaganda.

Ozoka was reacting to the press statement by the AIB, notifying the public that Air Peace did not report an incident to the agency but only reported to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA, describing such publication as unprecedented.

“ The damage assessment by AIB did not reveal that an accident or serious incident occurred as hard landing does not equate to an accident or serious incident.

“According to AIB, the nature of the damage suggests a high probability of an accident but it is difficult to see how such a conclusion can be reached when a thorough investigation was not carried out. Accident investigation is a pain-staking research work, which follows a whole process involving the gathering and analysis of information, the drawing of conclusions after determination of cause(s), and making safety recommendations,” he said.

Ozoka who was a former Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, also noted that after the incident, the operating aircraft, B737-300 with registration 5N-BUK, was kept on ground awaiting hard landing inspection.

“The aircraft was not put back into operation and it is not operating at the moment and so; it is difficult to see what wrong Air Peace has committed. If, according to the airline, a Mandatory Occurrence Report (MOR) was filed with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in writing on May 17, 2019 after a notification was made on May 16, 2019, that is, within two days of the incidents; the NCAA should confirm whether this assertion is true, and if so confirmed, Air Peace has done no wrong,” he explained.

The former rector also observed that so far, no accidents or serious incidents were shown to have occurred in the publication by AIB.

“If, by chance, Air Peace, which is unarguably the leading airline in Nigeria lacks full understanding of AIB’s mandates, then it will be very safe to conclude that other airlines in the country equally lack this ‘full understanding’. The AIB should therefore take appropriate action to brief and educate all airlines in the country on such requirements for the wellbeing of the sector as AIB plays a critical role in aviation safety. Nothing stops the bureau from charging a fee for their services as it is within their purview to do so,” he said.

Speaking on ICAO Annex 13, which deals with accident investigation, Ozoka said, “Aircraft accident and incident investigation” does not provide for the type of press statement made by AIB and published by the media in which an airline is blamed and castigated even when no accident occurred and no investigation carried out to reveal cause(s) and recommend measures to prevent re-occurrence.

 “It is possible that the AIB has other reasons for the allegation of wrong doing against Air Peace but this has not been demonstrated and unfortunately, the whole world has read the publication. In my very candid opinion, and deriving from the information by AIB in the publication, neither ICAO nor NCAA rules and regulations were breached by Air Peace and it is not clear which aspects of AIB’s mandate and procedures, which should be in alignment with ICAO Annex 13 were breached,” he said.