Lack of procedure manual hampering govt probe into causes of accident

Government investigation into Wednesday’s crash-landing of Turkish Airlines’ jet at Tribhuvan International Airport has been hampered by lack of necessary procedure manual, which is mandatory for commencing a probe into major air accidents.

According to Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, who is also a member secretary of the investigation panel, the committee is planning to prepare a manual for the aircraft accident investigation, as the government has only its Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulation. “We will prepare a procedure manual soon,” he said.

The investigation committee led by former secretary Nagendra Prasad Ghimire has been given 90 days to come up with a report but it has failed to proceed with its investigation process after five days of its formation due to lack of a guiding manual.

“The committee recorded statements of Turkish Airlines’ crew, air traffic controllers and others and also collected cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder,” Lamichhane said. According to sources, the committee members talked to Senior Captain Ayhan Gunbatan, who commanded the Airbus 330-300 with co-captain Levent Bilir and four ATCs who exchanged information on handling approach, aerodrome and area control services during the time of landing.” According to him, the committee was still undecided on when and where it could retrieve the voice recordings from CVR and FDR for further investigation.

Aviation experts also questioned the capability of the investigators, saying it was a mockery of ICAO’s manual that clearly states that all investigators must be trained on aircraft accident and incident investigation. “All of them lack training as specified by the ICAO Manual, Annex 13,” an aviation expert told THT.

Though Joint Secretary Lamichhane refused to comment on the issue, country’s own civil aviation regulation clearly states in its Clause 26 that ‘the provisions regarding investigation of any accident or serious incident shall be as provided in this Regulation to the extent mentioned herein and the provisions which are not contained in this Regulation shall be as per the annex and manual issued by ICAO.”

ICAO’s manual states that appropriately qualified personnel should be identified and trained in accident investigation techniques prior to being assigned to accident investigation issues. “An investigation must be properly organised, carried out, coordinated and supervised by qualified technical personnel,” it adds.

With no investigation in place, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal also failed to abide by its regulation that clearly specifies that director general shall investigate all accidents for possible non-compliance with regulations for enforcement purposes. The European Union and ICAO have already raised serious safety concerns, mainly about country’s capability to conduct air accident investigation, as well as the closure of the findings.

Source: THT