The commissioner of Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), Mr. Charles Irikefe Erhueh said that the COVID-19 situation could offer the opportunity to further restructure the aviation industry and allow it to fully play its global economic and developmental roles.
Irikefe stated this at BAGAIA’s first webinar extraordinary commission meeting held recently to strategise on the agency’s plans to ensure compliance to global best practices as airlines resume flights despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commissioner who chaired the meeting said the coronavirus scourge has stalled any illusion of continuing business as usual but that preparations need to be made to ensure safety in the skies.
He also underlined the importance of the aviation sector which he said is vital for socio-economic advancement, international commerce, tourism, and regional alliance has been worst hit by the current COVID-19 crisis.
“As airlines are planning to come back into full operations; there is a serious need to be in compliance with global best practice. Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD), warning that both B737 engines could shut down after take-off.
“This was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns due to engine bleed air fifth stage check valve – which get stuck if faulty as most aircraft has been on-ground some were even on storage during this pandemic,” he said.
“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 this 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 organizations, 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.
Irikefe announced that the agency had a proposal for flight data analysis capability for member states the “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.”
The commission’s participants at the online conference were Akwasi Agyeibi Prempeh (Ghana), Jorge Manuel Fernandes Barbosa da Silva Rodrigues (Cape Verde), Niji Oni (Nigeria), Col. Lawrence R. Jarra (The Gambia), Sidiki Traore (Guinea); Nika Mehiz Manzi, deputy regional director of Western and Central African (WACAF) representative of the regional director of WACAF Mr. Prosper Zoo’o Minto’o, and Sonia Fretias of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) WACAF regional office.