Parliament has for the second time read the Aircraft Accident, Investigation and Prevention Bureau Bill, 2020 which seeks 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 it becomes law after a third reading by parliament and its subsequent approval and presidential assent, the autonomous body would be independent of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), thereby taking away that current accident investigation function from the GCAA.
There has been growing concerns over the GCAA’s investigations of accident cases with many believing it smacks of conflict of interest as they regulate the airspace. 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,” a report from the Committee on Roads and Transport said.
According to the objective of the bill, the Aircraft Accident, Investigation and Prevention Bureau would be an autonomous corporate body with the mandate to investigate, prevent, regulate and enable the management of aircraft accidents that occur in Ghana.
The bureau is expected to have a seven-member board, consisting of a chairperson with experience in aviation matters who is nominated by the President, a legal practitioner and representative of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana Institute of Engineers and the Ministry Responsible for Aviation. The Commissioner and one other person nominated by the President would be members of the board.
According to Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, 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 has risen to establish an independent body to investigate air traffic accidents.
The main funding source for the bureau would be a levy of 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.
Since 2012, four major aircraft accidents, which claimed lives, and caused damage to property, have been recorded. “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,” the minister noted.
The Committee report mentioned 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 Committee further noted that, adhoc investigations into aircraft accidents and incidents are not only expensive in terms of operational costs, but not sustainable as far as institutional memory for future investigations, and policy enforcements.