Parliament on Thursday considered a proposed law to establish an Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which would investigate all aviation incidents and accidents in the country, in line with international best practices.
When assented to by the President and becomes operational, the intended specialised agency will avoid a situation of conflict of interest, where the aviation industry regulator, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), is heavily involved in investigating incidents and accidents involving operators that it regulates.
When established, the bureau will also be responsible for investigating aircraft incidents and accidents in the oceanic region within the Accra Flight Information Region.
“The Aircraft Accident, Investigation and Prevention Bureau Bill, 2020, puts Ghana in league with national and international ICAO obligation and best practices and is compliant with international aviation standards,” the report of the Committee on Roads and Transport said.
Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister for Aviation moved for adoption of the procedural motion of the report of the Committee on the proposed law, and was seconded by Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza, MP for Adaklu.
Following the growth in the aviation industry, and high record of the Kotoka International Airport as the Best Improved in Africa in 2019, the need arises to establish an independent body to investigate air traffic accidents.
In March 2019, the Accident Investigation Bureau was established as an administrative unit for the conduct of investigation into aircraft accidents, with the Minister of Aviation being responsible for the conduct of aviation accident investigations.
It is expected that the bureau would deal with conflict of interest in the current investigative process.
Also establishing an independent accident investigation body was one of the key recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Validated Mission in Ghana (ICAO) which carried out an assessment from March 20 to April 3, 2019.
Part of the recommendations of the Mission was that the establishment of an independent investigative body is in line with best practice for regulators not to investigate such incidents themselves.
Since 2012, four major aircraft accidents, which claimed lives, and caused damage to property, have been recorded.
However, “if Ghana is to achieve its vision of being the aviation hub of West Africa, then its infrastructure and institutions have to be transformed and aligned with national and international obligations and best practices.”
Further, it has been realized that adhoc investigations into aircraft teams are not only expensive in terms of operational costs, but not sustainable as far as institutional memory for future investigations, and policy enforcements.
In the United States of America, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the organisation responsible for investigating civil aviation incidents and accidents in that country.
Also, the Committee reported that countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Singapore, Qatar, Netherlands among others have already established autonomous aircraft accident investigation bodies, and by passing the bill, the Committee hopes Ghana would seal her position in that pride of place.
The new accident investigation body is to receive 1.5 percent of the Airport Passenger Service Charge (APSC), a levy which forms part of the cost of domestic and international air tickets.
The Ghana Airports Company, which receives the revenue from the APSC, is now required to give 1.5 percent to the new agency.