Aviation industry preps ahead of ICAO’s crucial new air safety standard

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
Akwasi Agyeibi Prempeh, Acting Commissioner of the Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation and Prevention Bureau

Ahead of implementing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-required Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) initiative in January 2023, airline operators have been trained in state-of-the-art technology that enables safety in Ghana’s aviation industry.

Under this initiative, the standard for the distress tracking element of GADSS will now be applicable for newly-built aircraft.

Limitations in the current air navigation system, which have hampered the timely identification and localisation of aircraft in distress, have been highlighted by tragedies such as the loss of Air France 447 and Malaysia Airlines 370. These limitations significantly hindered both effective search and rescue efforts and recovery operations.

At the training session’s opening by Star Navigation Group, the Acting Commissioner of the Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation and Prevention Bureau (AIB Ghana), Akwasi Agyeibi Prempeh, mentioned that the training will ensure a revolution of the aviation sector’s traditional investigation and prevention techniques to a more modern technological approach – which will ultimately alter the practice of aircraft safety from a reactive enterprise to a proactive endeavour.

In altering the practice of aircraft safety from a reactive enterprise to a proactive endeavour, the Ag. Commissioner said: “This will allow aircraft investigation agencies to be more efficient and accurate in finding the set of contributing and causal factors to an aircraft mishap”.

According to the ICAO Concept of Operations, the GADSS will address all phases of flight under all circumstances, including distress. This GADSS will maintain an up‐to‐date record of the aircraft’s progress; and in case of a crash, forced landing or ditching, the location of survivors, the aircraft and recoverable flight data.

ICAO has identified that the current effectiveness of alerting search and rescue services could be enhanced by developing and implementing the GADSS.

To comply with the mandate, aircraft with a maximum take-off weight over 27,000 kg (60,000 lbs) with an airworthiness certificate issued will have to autonomously transmit position information once every minute or less when an aircraft is in distress.

The Ag. Commissioner noted that aircraft investigation remains a process of gathering factual evidence and analysing it to unfold the set of factors which contributed to cause an aircraft accident or incident. Safety recommendations are then published to prevent such failures from recurring.

“To revolutionise aircraft investigations, the process or methodology needs to be deeply challenged,” he said.

Mr. Prempeh indicated that not too long ago, Ghana was adjudged the best in safety oversight by the ICAO, as industry players remained compliant to dictates of the ICAO standard and recommended practices.

“We are aware that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (regulator), the Ghana Airports Company Limited (aerodrome operator) and the Airline Operators are embracing emerging aviation technologies to become more effective and efficient in their operations.

“Currently, international airline operators are operating with bigger and wider body aircraft, and domestic airline operators have also increased their frequencies across the regional airports. The AIB and GCAA have collaborated to set up a safety reporting portal as a more expedient mode of communicating and accessing information,” he said.

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