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Safety recommendations suffer low implementation in local aviation

By Wole Oyebade
07 December 2018   |   2:38 am
The multiple safety recommendations issued by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) lately, have recorded low rate of implementation by concerned agencies in the local aviation industry.

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority

• AIB releases 154 till date

The multiple safety recommendations issued by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) lately, have recorded low rate of implementation by concerned agencies in the local aviation industry.The recommendations, often issued after investigations of major incidents or accidents in the sector, currently totaled 154 till date, with only a paltry 40 per cent implemented.

The development worries stakeholders, who now raise questions on the industry’s priority to safety via prevention of incidences and their recurrence.It will be recalled that a 10-man special committee was set up in April to review at least 120 safety recommendations and their implementation by airlines, regulators and aircraft manufacturers among others.

The committee, drawn from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), and the Ministry of Transport, were mandated to audit the level implementation and impacts so far made on safety. While the safety recommendations had since climbed to 154 with additional release of final reports of accident investigations by the AIB, feelers suggest poor execution of some of the safety advices locally contrary to more positive responses abroad.

For instance, AIB’s investigations into the Bristow Helicopter crash, which occurred in Lagos on August 12, 2015, led to the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Sikorsky, the aircraft manufacturer, to taking global safety actions to prevent similar accidents in their operations.

Similarly, Diamond Aircraft manufacturer also took safety action following the bureau’s investigations into the serious incident involving Diamond DA42 with registration number 5N-BKS, which occurred in Benin, Edo State, in July 2012.

Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Akin Olateru, said the timely release of reports, implementation of recommendations and safety impact assessment were necessary to further enhance safety, especially in relation to recent near-mishap incidences seen in the local sector. Olateru said safety recommendations were as critical as the investigation itself, as it is the lever used to effect safety changes and improvements in the aviation industry.

The AIB, under Olateru, has released a total of 21 final reports till date, which make up 52.5 per cent of AIB’s total of 40 final reports released since inception in 2007. The 73 safety recommendations issued since 2017, account for 47.4 per cent of the total 154 issued since inception.

“I would like to appreciate the tireless efforts of AIB staff in achieving this monumental milestone by turning out a total of 21 incident reports in the last 20 months. They are still working hard to clear the backlog of uncompleted reports this administration inherited. The support of the supervisory ministry and particularly the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, cannot be underestimated.

“Of the 37 outstanding reports inherited by the present administration, 10 reports were released in 2017, and another 10 in 2018. With one serious incident occurring in 2017; two accidents and three serious incidents in 2018, AIB now has 23 outstanding reports. As we work assiduously to clear the backlog of reports, we are equally ensuring that new occurrences are resolved promptly,” Olateru said.

Industry stakeholders, who commended the new lease of life at AIB, also urged other concerned parties to do more to complement efforts of the investigation bureau.President of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Gbenga Olowo, reiterated that the essence of the safety recommendations was to prevent recurrence. Olowo, however, noted that most of the safety recommendations were not implemented by some of the major regulatory agencies, “therefore, making recurrence of such occurrence inevitable.”

He said once a report goes through the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the agency is expected to release to the market Service Bulletins (SBs), and Airworthiness Directives (Ads), which would serve as a guide to players in the industry.
“Those two documents must come from the CAA to the market. When service bulletin comes, if you are an operator, and the result of the AIB investigations says something must be done on pilot training, then, it becomes compulsory that such things are carried out when it comes to training or airworthiness of the aircraft. For me, it is mandatory that once the reports are out, they are implemented immediately. Otherwise, it will impact safety so negatively.”

He, however, said that some of the reports may not have been implemented due to their expensive nature, especially if it has to do with airport and aircraft for instance.“For instance, if it has to do with airworthiness directive that certain things have to be done with the aircraft, then the airport follows. If you enforce recommendation on the aircraft, you are putting a burden on the airline. Meanwhile, the airport remains what it is and nothing is done.

“You need to look at the totality of all these things. But the CAA should be able to tell us their constraints. Most of the accidents, we have strong evidence that they have to do with human errors and once this is the case, nothing should stop us from implementing them,” Olowo said.

Aviation Security Consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), added that it was unfortunate that some recommendations of AIB were yet to be implemented several years after recommendations. Ojikutu, however, added that it is not the duty of AIB but of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to enforce implementation.

“It is not even the responsibility of AIB to follow it up. They should ask NCAA why some of the safety recommendations are not implemented. We should look for a way to address this issue. Anywhere safety recommendations are made, they are sent to the CAA of that country to ensure implementations. If they are not implementable, that is when you now return such to AIB, but that is not the situation now,” he said.