Accident Investigation Committee to be headed by Director of Air Safety

Separating the role of a regulator and an investigator, the Union government on Thursday set up an independent panel to probe major aviation accidents. Till now, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), coping with manpower shortage and riddled with recent charges of corruption in giving licenses to pilots, was performing both the roles.

Aiming at creating an independent investigation system in the country to match the growth in aviation and the corresponding increase in the number of incidents or accidents, an Accident Investigation Committee (AIC) has been established to work under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Ministry, an official spokesman said here on Thursday. The move came a day after a small plane crashed in Faridabad, on the outskirts of the national capital, claiming 10 lives.

The committee, to be headed by the Director of Air Safety, would have all its five members from the DGCA. It would identify the causes of accident and assist the formal probe panels such as courts or committees of enquiry.

The AIC would draw up formal procedures for notification of an accident or serious incident, assist the Ministry to set up probe panels in cases of major mishaps and carry out investigation of aircraft accidents, the spokesman said.

It would also coordinate and provide support for the probe panels and follow up and monitor the compliance of the recommendations made in the Accident and Serious Incident Investigation Reports.

The idea was floated last year after the Mangalore air crash that killed 158 people. It was proposed by the then Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, to separate regulatory and investigation functions, in accordance with the recommendations of the U.N. body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

On initial notification of accidents and incidents, the Regional Air Safety Officer would forward the details of the accidents and incidents to the AIC.

After classification, minor incidents would be referred to the DGCA for probe while serious incidents and accidents would be investigated by the investigator or committees or courts of inquiry, the spokesman said.

The AIC would also review periodically all such occurrences and maintain a panel of experts in various fields of aviation to assist the investigation process. The experts would be taken from fields like accident investigation, airworthiness, meteorology, flight operations and air traffic management.

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