Monday, May 20, 2013

New rules for aviation safety and incident investigation: Civil Aviation Authority of Macau

The “Civil Aviation Accident, Incident Investigation and Aviation Safety Information Protection Law” which was passed by the Legislative Assembly in January this year will come into effect today. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Macau (AACM), the law’s implementation means that the MSAR government will be held responsible for the investigation of civil aviation accidents.

The law is applicable for the following three scenarios: accidents and incidents that take place in Macau or in the airspace under Macau’s jurisdiction; aircrafts registered in Macau or if a local air operator has an accident or incident  in a foreign country and for the aviation safety data collection and handling system. When one of the above scenarios takes place the policy in place instructs that the operator, the aircraft owner, the captain and the airport or heliport are bound by their legal responsibilities to submit a compulsory report to the AACM.

If an accident or serious incident happens, AACM will name an investigator-in-chief and appoint other members to form an investigation team. According to AACM, this investigator-in-chief will have independence and complete power.

During the investigation process, AACM can request experts from the government or private entities from either local or overseas to participate in the investigation. If an accident or incident involves investigation by police authorities, the law indicates that the investigation by AACM and the investigation by those authorities will be carried out simultaneously but independently.

Supporting this new law, the “Macau Confidential Aviation Reporting System (MACCARES)” will commence its operation today. This system collects safety information and identifies safety threats so that data can be analyzed and generated, and safety alerts can be issued out to prevent the occurrence of accidents and incidents.

In accordance with MACCARES, any person who notices an occurrence or an act of non-compliance relating to aviation safety can complete the reporting form with the necessary information and then send it by post or email to the authority.

AACM is charged to use the information gathered through MACCARES to produce statistical reports with anonymous data, published and shared with the industry so that each entity can learn from experience and make the necessary improvements. In the case of a report highlighting a situation that poses immediate threat to aviation safety, AACM will address the safety alert to the concerned operator. The authority has pointed out that the system works on a confidential and non-punitive principle and AACM will not penalize the operators or any person by using the information collected from this reporting system.

In a press release issued yesterday, the AACM has pledged to continue to conduct sessions in Chinese and English for different categories of industry personnel to explain to them the law. They will also be explaining the objectives of MACCARES: how the industry can participate, how the information will be used and how the reporter will be protected by the confidential and non-punitive principles.

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