CAA: transparency in air crash probes
THIS is with reference to the letter by Mr Mukhtar Ahmed ‘CAA never released data’ (June 24). I would like to say that comments by the author need to be reconciled with empirical facts about CAA’s role in making the air crash investigation process transparent and confidence inspiring.
The fact is that the CAA continued to keep its door closed to public and affected families and the result is that it has lost its credibility. No one is ready to believe its investigation process and findings.
It is a reality that Pakistan’s track record for air accidents is bad. We must know why it is so. Is it that CCA’s oversight mechanism is weak or is it that investigation reports are not shared with public? Let us see how the assertion that the CAA never released data is true.
The prime regulator never made public investigation report of Fokker crash of July 2006 even after a lapse of six years. Passing the buck to the ministry for this disclosure is found to be convenient. What happened to the investigation report of JS air crash on Nov 5, 2010? How about investigation report of Georgian plane IL-76 that crashed on November 28, 2010, and killed four people on ground?
It may be true that there are competent air crash investigators in Pakistan. But it must also be known that all of these capable persons live in a culture of compromise. It needs to be seen that these investigators possess necessary qualifications as per guidelines for aircraft accident investigators promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Admitting that foreign experts are invited to shed away doubts is in itself a negation of earlier assertion. The fact is that in aviation investigation history there have been cases where the investigators with tremendous experience of conducting air crash investigation and representing the manufacturers, were able to manipulate the facts to permit the manufacturer to escape any product liability consequences.
Why cannot we expect same type of manipulation in case of Bhoja Air crash? It has happened in France in 1988 and in case of an Indonesian air crash in 1997. In both cases few seconds of recordings of the flight recorder were missing due to tampering to safeguard the interest of manufacturers. Is it not more likely in case of current investigation process where admittedly concerns of political considerations are so lightly ignored as a norm?
There may be any and many reasons for the Bhoja Air crash but why should we overrule the possibility of defect in the aircraft or any of its equipment that contributed to the free fall of the plane.
We should not sit under a shadow of expediency that ICAO may move a no-confidence motion to result into embargo on our flights and allow our people to be killed in air crashes.
To win public confidence, the CAA must promote a just culture by way of transparency and sharing of information with the public. It must make public last minutes communication with the pilots and the air traffic control. It must also share CVR contents of last few minutes with the public.
Only this way the CAA may restore public confidence. Finally, let us all pray that this time the investigation of Bhoja Air crash does not end up in pilot error.
DR ABDUL RAZZAQ
(A Fokker crash affectee)