Government notifies norms for making AAIB independent body

NEW DELHI: Ahead of ICAO's crucial audit of domestic aviation sector, the government has notified the regulatory framework for making the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) an independent body.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), part of the United Nations, would be carrying out its audit in the last week of November.

The audit, the third in last nine years, would cover a host of aspects including aircraft investigation mechanism, aerodrome operations, air traffic control and air navigation.

A senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said norms have been notified for making AAIB an independent body. As many as 21 positions, including that of Director General, have also been notified.

The ministry is framing the recruitment rules for the posts, which would be permanent ones. Since it would take time to get people with required expertise, initially some posts would be filled up on deputation basis, the official added.

Currently, AAIB is under aviation regulator DGCA.

The official said that carving out AAIB as an independent body is also a requirement under ICAO norms and such a move would also address concerns about possible conflict of interests.

Explaining the rationale, the official said that when an accident happens, there could be many reasons, including the possibility of lapses at the DGCA end. Such matters get addressed once AAIB functions as an independent entity, which is also a requirement under ICAO framework, he added.

The bureau, which was made a separate division under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2012, has the responsibility of investigating all major aircraft accidents in the country. At present, the bureau is headed by a senior DGCA official.

Meanwhile, the ICAO audit is crucial for India and a good ranking would come as a major boost for the country's aviation sector, which has growth potential.

Earlier this year, US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had also conducted a similar exercise following which India's aviation safety ranking was revoked to category 1.

A specialised agency of the United Nations, ICAO has the mandate to ensure that local civil aviation operations and regulations in different countries are in conformity with global norms.

ICAO was set up in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention). As many as 191 countries, including India, are part of the convention.