Saturday, September 26, 2020

Final report on AI Calicut crash likely in January

Mumbai: Unlike Indonesia, Ethiopia and Pakistan, India has stood out as the only country in recent years to not release a preliminary report within a month of a major airline accident. Fifty days ago, an Air India Express Boeing 737 aircraft overshot the table-top runway of Calicut airport and crashed, killing 18 people. To know what went wrong, pilots, flyers and other stakeholders will need to wait till January when a final report on the crash is expected.

A total of 193 countries, including India, follow aircraft accident investigation norms laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. Under these norms, within a month of an accident, the investigating agency concerned should submit a preliminary report to ICAO. The final report comes later, within a year.

Responding to TOI’s query on whether a preliminary report has been sent to ICAO, the ministry of civil aviation said: “As a matter of settled practice, within one month of an occurrence, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau sends it (preliminary report) for all occurrences which are notified to ICAO.” When asked specifically about the Calicut preliminary report, the ministry did not respond. ICAO in response to TOI query said: “While ICAO does maintain a public e-library of final reports, it does not contain preliminary reports.”

A preliminary report typically contains basic factual and circumstantial information on an accident, information like what transpired during different stages of a flight, communication between pilots/ air traffic controller, technical problems with the aircraft if any, etc. Whether a preliminary report should be kept confidential or released to public is a decision that ICAO leaves to the countries. But transparency in accident investigation plays a crucial role in preventing similar accidents, which is probably why, most nations make preliminary reports of fatal airline crashes public within a month of the accident.

26/09/20 Manju V/Times of India

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