AIB warns Air Peace, others over failure to report serious incidents

…Onyema says incident reported to NCAA, Boeing in accordance with regulations

Posted by Sade Williams

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), has asked Airlines to always report incident/serious incidents or near accidents to the Bureau, saying failure to do this will jeopradise the safety of the travelling public.

A statement signed by AIB’s public relations officer, Tunji Oketunbi, on Monday, specifically referred to a serious incident involving Air Peace with a Boeing 737-300 aircraft with Registration Marks 5N-BUK on May 15, 2019, exlining the Bureau only got the information from a passenger and not the airline as required by regulations.

It added that the incident occurred while the aircraft was on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt, saying that the aircraft was said to have experienced a hard landing as it touched down on the runway (18R).

“AIB wishes to express its displeasure over the persistent failure of some airlines to report accidents or serious incidents to the Bureau as mandated by Law.

“Upon receipt of the notification, the Bureau visited Air Peace Limited office and confirmed the said occurrence. The Bureau 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. There was also visible damage to the right-hand engine compressor blades.

“The aircraft has since been on ground, awaiting implementation of the hard landing inspections recommended by the aircraft manufacturer, the Boeing Company. This includes an inspection of the right-hand engine pylons and the wing root, due to the heavy impact concerns. 

“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 …’”,  it said.

It added further that ‘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.

It noted further that, in another development, an aircraft belonging to Air Peace Limited was also involved in a serious incident and the airline willfully failed to comply with the provisions of the Bureau’s Regulations .

“Precisely, on December 14th, 2018, a Boeing 737-300 belonging to the airline, with registration marks 5N-BUO, enroute Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu from Lagos was involved in a serious incident at about 10:44hrs. The information only got to the Bureau through the social media.  Whist the Bureau was not notified of the occurrence until later in the evening, AIB investigators met the aircraft at the General 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 over written, thereby making it impossible for the Bureau to retrieve the actual data”, it noted.

The AIB explained further that the Accountable Manager and Chief Pilot of Air Peace at the material time, were duly warned by the Bureau for non-compliance with the Regulations.

“Based on all the foregoing, it is obvious that Air Peace Management lacks the full understanding of the statutory mandates, functions and procedures of the Bureau.  It is noteworthy 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.

The safety of the flying public is of primary importance and on the scale of significance, supersedes the commercial consideration of any airline.

The Bureau said it has simplified its reporting systems to be user friendly and any accidents or occurrence should be reported via the 24-hour accident reporting methods.

But reacting to the allegation, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema said 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 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 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.

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