Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Namibia: Air Crash Investigators to Get Immunity

Walvis Bay — The Director of Aircraft Accident Investigations, Ericksson Nengola, is optimistic that once the proposed civil aviation bill is enacted, it will protect aircraft accident investigators from potential legal action.

Such a move, he says, will definitely boost their confidence during investigations.

Nengola said the current Civil Aviation Act does not offer full protection to investigators as their findings from investigations can be used against them.

"In many cases our investigators are summonsed to testify based on the findings from their investigations. Often this demoralizes investigators and there are even fears they can develop low self-esteem," he said.

"The new bill will not allow our investigators to testify against their will. This is surely a step in the right direction."

Nengola says the new bill will also improve air accident investigation regulations. "It was about time that we look at an [amendment] bill since the [existing law] cannot match up to the latest developments in the aviation industry.

"The drafted bill looks at critical issues such as aircraft accidents and incidents and proposes a chapter dedicated to modernizing the provisions on air accidents and incident investigation services by establishing a new Directorate of Air Accident Investigation within the Ministry," he said.

The proposed draft bill also makes provision for precise information provision such as access rights and the privileges attached to on board recordings, privileged statements, powers and duties of courts and coroners.

The draft bill came under discussion at a meeting last week in Swakopmund, which was attended by Works and Transport Minister, Erkki Nghimtina, and various stakeholders, as part of the government's on-going efforts to upgrade aviation systems in order to bring about far-reaching improvements to the safety and efficiency of Namibia's civil aviation industry.

The new draft bill looks critically at key issues such as aircraft accidents and investigation, among others. The amended bill will probably be presented to parliament during the first half of 2013.

The proposed bill will be modern and comprehensive and most significantly make provision for the establishment of a new standalone Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The NCAA will be an autonomous body and as such will have the potential to move toward becoming largely self-funding.

The proposed NCAA will not be constrained to public service salary scales, but would be able to attract, develop and retain specialist aviation skills that are needed for the effective and efficient regulation of the industry.

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