Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA) Commissioner, Charles Erhueh,
has said that the aviation industry is the worst hit by the COVID19 pandemic.
He said this during an extraordinary commission meeting held online to strategise on the agency’s plans to ensure compliance to global best practices as airlines are returning to the skies despite the COVID-19.
Erhueh, who chaired the 1st Extraordinary Commission meeting, said that the COVID-19 situation can constitute an opportunity to further restructure the industry and allow it to fully play its economic, and developmental role globally.
The meeting had members of commission Akwasi Agyeibi Prempeh from Ghana, Jorge Manuel Fernandes Barbosa da Silva Rodrigues from the Cape Verde, Niji Oni from Nigeria, Col. Lawrence R. Jarra(rtd) from The Gambia; Sidiki Traore from Guinea; Nika Mehiz Manzi, Deputy Regional Director -WACAF, representative of the Regional Director of WACAF Mr. Prosper Zoo’o Minto’o who was unavoidably absence due to other pressing issues and Sonia Fretias ICAO Regional Office WACAF
The Commissioner, during his opening remark, said the aviation sector which is vital for socio-economic advancement, international commerce, tourism, and regional alliance has been worst hit by the current COVID-19 crisis. He said the present pandemic has stalled any illusion of continuing business as usual but that preparations need to be made to ensure safety in the skies.
‘As airlines are planning to come back into full operations, there is a serious need to be in compliance with global best practice. Recently FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD), warning that both B737 engines could shut down after take-off, this was which was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns due to engine bleed air 5th stage check valve – which get stuck if faulty as most aircraft has been on-ground some were even on storage during this pandemic.
‘Unprecedented health threats and related travel limitations do not allow continuing the business with the BAGAIA member states in the usual form. This will probably take considerable number of years for the transport by air to regain the level it had before thish pandemic.
‘Furthermore, due to our size in Africa, aviation will remain vital industry that will connect us all across the world. So in everything we do as aviators’ personal hygiene as well as safety must be our concerns while we carry-out our daily activities.
‘Also, this will only be possible with an efficient aviation industry with an improved level of safety. The COVID-19 situation can constitute an opportunity to further restructure our industry and allow it to fully play its economic, and developmental role globally.
‘In addition, our product, which is effective and practicable safety recommendations from our various organisations, and BAGAIA plays critical role in the aviation sector. We don’t pray for accident but we must be prepared for it at the same time,’ he said.
The BAGAIA Commissioner stated that the agency has a proposal for flight data analysis capability for member states and this will ‘help develop a collaborative/shared flight data analysis capability within the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA) as well as provide each State with a core Flight Data Analysis capability, with the world-class Nigerian AIB existing FDR/CVR Safety lab as the central hub for expert, and technical support.’