AIB accuses Air Peace of not reporting incidents

•We reported incidents to NCAA ― Airline Management

The Accident Investigation Bureau [AIB] has accused Nigeria’s Air Peace other airlines in the country of forming the habit of failing to report accidents or serious incident to the accident investigation bureau.

Making the accusation against the airlines particularly Air Peace, AIB’s Commissioner,  Akin Olateru, explained through a statement issued yesterday that on June 5, 2019, the Bureau received notification about a serious incident involving a Boeing 737-300 aircraft with Registration Marks 5N-BUK, belonging to Air Peace Limited from a passenger onboard.

According to Olateru, upon receipt of the notification, he noted that the Bureau visited Air Peace Limited office and confirmed the said occurrence, adding that the agency further conducted a damage assessment on the aircraft, which revealed that the aircraft made contact on the runway with the starboard engine cowling as obvious from various scrapes, scratches and dents, an evidence of tyre scouring on the sidewalls of the No. 4 tyre as well as bottoming of the main landing gear oleo struts.

His words: “Of utmost concern is the fact that till date, the Accident Investigation Bureau has received no notification of the incident: three weeks after the date of occurrence, contrary to ICAO Annex 13 which guides the operations of aircraft accident investigation procedures.”

In a swift response, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema contrary to the AIB’s position, that when the incident happened the airline reported to the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and also wrote to Boeing and the manufacturer of the aircraft’s engine, CPM International.

“When the incident occurred we reported it to NCAA. We followed the aircraft manual, which guided us on what to do when such an incident occurred. We wrote to Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer and also wrote to the engine manufacturer, CPM International. We also grounded the aircraft.

“We always report any incident to NCAA and sometimes you may not know what to report to AIB because the NCAA is the regulatory authority and the Bureau is in charge of accident investigation. So when an incident like hard landing happens and you inform NCAA, we feel we have followed the procedure. Boeing has written back to us and has told us what to do, according to the procedure, currently, inspection is being carried out on the aircraft,” Onyema said.

In a statement issued by the AIB yesterday evening, the Bureau’s Commissioner stated that it was reported that the said incident occurred on May 15th2019, while the aircraft was on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt. The aircraft was said to have experienced a hard landing as it touched down on the runway (18R).

“There was also visible damage to the right-hand engine compressor blades. The aircraft has since been on the ground, awaiting implementation of the hard landing inspections recommended by the aircraft manufacturer, the Boeing Company.”

This, according to him includes an inspection of the right-hand engine pylons and the wing root, due to the heavy impact concerns.

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Olateru confirmed that further discussions with the Maintenance Personnel of Air Peace Limited revealed that CFM International, the engine manufacturer, has also been contacted with regard to necessary inspections, to ascertain the serviceability of the starboard engine.

“The nature of the damage suggest that, there was a high probability of an accident as captured in the definition of Serious Incidents in the Bureau’s Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2016 viz: ‘An incident involving circumstances indicating that there was a high probability of an accident, and is associated with the operation of an aircraft.

“Of utmost concern is the fact that till date, the Accident Investigation Bureau has received no notification of the incident: three weeks after the date of occurrence, contrary to ICAO Annex 13 which guides the operations of aircraft accident investigation procedures. Rather, the Bureau further to the occurrence received a submission of a ‘Mandatory Occurrence Report’ (MOR) subsequently filed at NCAA, on 7th June 2019, which filing was as a direct result of the Bureau’s visit to Air Peace office on the 6th day of June 2019’.

An operator files a MOR after an occurrence to NCAA and not a notification to the Bureau as required by its Regulations.

Olateru further mentioned a similar incident involving an aircraft belonging to Air Peace Limited which was also involved in a serious incident, hinting that the airline willfully failed to comply with the provisions of the Bureau’s regulations which provides that,‘Subject to paragraph and regulation 14 where an accident or a serious incident which results in the withdrawal from service of an aircraft occurs in or over Nigeria, no person, other than an authorised person, shall have access to the aircraft involved and neither the aircraft nor its contents shall, except under the authority of the Commissioner, be removed or otherwise interfered with. Where it is necessary to move aircraft wreckage, mail or cargo, sketches, descriptive notes, and photographs shall be made if possible, of the original positions and condition of the wreckage and any significant impact marks.’

He recalled that precisely, on December 14th, 2018, a Boeing 737-300 belonging to the airline, with registration marks 5N-BUO, en route Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu from Lagos was involved in a serious incident at about 10:44hrs. He said the information only got to the Bureau through social media.

“Whilst the Bureau was not notified of the occurrence until later in the evening, the AIB chief stated that investigators met the aircraft at theGeneral Aviation Terminal (GAT) apron in Lagos where it was parked with the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) affected, thereby posing an undesirable difficulty in the Bureau’s bid to successfully discharge its statutory mandate of investigating accidents and serious incidents.

“A careful investigation of the incident by the Bureau revealed that the aircraft was relocated from Enugu where the incident occurred, back to Lagos: and all relevant information on the CVR was overwritten, thereby making it impossible for the Bureau to retrieve the actual data. The Accountable Manager and Chief Pilot of Air Peace Limited at the material time were duly warned by the Bureau for non-compliance with the Regulations”.

Based on all the foregoing, AIB admitted that it was obvious that Air Peace management lacks the full understanding of the statutory mandates, functions and procedures of the Bureau.

He clarified that air accidents and serious Incidents investigations are carried out in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations in force, in the interest of safety and with the aim of forestalling similar occurrences in the future.

Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006, which is the Act establishing the Bureau, confers the prerogative to determine the classification of an accident or serious incidents on the AIB. All Airlines are enjoined to report these occurrences at all times.

AIB cited relevant statutory and regulatory provisions to back its position: saying: Subsection 29 (11) (a) further provides; Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (10) of this section, the regulations made thereunder may, in particular, contain provisions:

(a) requiring notice to be given of any such accident or incident as aforesaid in such manner and by such persons, as may be prescribed.

“Where an accident or incident occurs in respect of which, by virtue of regulation 14(2), the Commissioner is required to carry out, or to cause an officer to carry out an investigation, the relevant person or any other person having knowledge of an accident or incident and in the case of an aerodrome accident or incident occurring on or adjacent to an aerodrome, the operator of the Airport shall forthwith give notice thereof, within twenty four hours, to the Bureau by the quickest means of communication available and in the case of an accident occurring in or over Nigeria, shall also notify forthwith a Police Officer of the area where the accident occurred”.

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