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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 30 November 2014

AIR ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT AN ACCIDENT THAT HAPPENED ALREADY

On November 14 2014 a Kenyan registered aircraft crashed in Panyagor, South Sudan killing two Kenyan pilots. An engineer on board sustained serious injuries.
In April 2014 the same aircraft suffered a non-fatal incident on touchdown at Wilson Airport, Nairobi when carrying out an airworthiness check flight.
On February 17 2014 another Kenyan registered aircraft crashed in Rubkona Airfield, South Sudan killing one. Three others sustained serious injuries. Both aircrafts were operated by Global Airlift.
In accordance with the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation which Kenya is a signatory, the Annex 13 states that investigations into the probable cause of the first and third occurrences fall under the state of occurrence in this case South Sudan; however, by the virtue of Kenya being the state of registry of these aircraft it is expected to play an active role in the investigations. Investigation of the third occurrence (classified by Icao as a serious incident) falls under Kenya. 
Sometime in August 2012, a commercial aircraft crashed in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve killing four, two Kenyans and two Germans. Todate this occurrence is yet to be investigated.
In February 2013, a light aircraft crashed on Mt Kenya killing a pilot and a researcher. This is yet to be investigated. No air accident investigation personnel visited the accident site and the wreckage is still at the accident site.
In July 2013, a commercial aircraft crashed on the Aberdare Ranges killing the famous aviator  Harro Trempenou and three passengers. The wreckage is still at the accident site and no investigation have been done.
In March 2014, a Kenyan pilot died in Kijipwa while on a maiden flight test of an aircraft imported from Israel. This accident is yet to be investigated.
In October 2013, a student pilot and his instructor died when their aircraft crashed inside Nairobi National Park. No investigation has been conducted and so no report released yet.
Sometimes in 2013 an aircraft crashed in Rea Vipingo area of Kilifi killing its sole occupant, an Italian pilot. No investigation has been conducted.
In Kenya, it is the mandate of the Air Accident Investigation Department to investigate all accidents and serious incidents involving all civil registered aircraft that may occur within our borders and outside Kenya but involving Kenyan registered aircraft. The person in charge of Aaid is the chief inspector of Aircraft Accidents, Martyne Lunani. His is a delegated authority by the cabinet secretary, of Transport and Infrastructure. The chief doubles up as the director of Aaid. In the process of investigating accidents the department is supposed to come up with findings and safety recommendations in form of reports as prescribed in Icao format. This is supposed to be shared with the aviation regulator, air operators and the public in general. The department is also supposed to run an accident prevention programme.
In a period of at least two and a half years, there have been tens of other aircraft accidents and serious incidents without fatalities in Kenya and outside Kenya but involving Kenyan registered aircraft. To date no reports whatsoever have been released to the public. Instead, the current director of Aaid is busy globe-trotting on taxpayers’ money at the expense of bereaved families who need closure as far as their loved ones died in these accidents. His social background when in foreign capitals is also the talk in the aviation industry with female air hostesses falling in his sex tricks. As many bereaved families will attest, the director lacks a human heart when dealing with them. Delays in responding to aircraft accidents by the air accident investigators are uncalled for and man made. As operators whose aircraft may have been involved in accidents count losses the director is busy with a calculator trying to see what is in for him in this or that accident.
This director lacks knowledge, technical expertise, skills and experience to head such a highly specialised, sensitive department. To cover up for his glaring shortfalls he has turned to being the most conniving, ruthless public servant whose cavalier attitude continually lead PS Nduva Muli astray. By and large the PS and CS  Michael Kamau has failed to perform their oversight role on this staff under them. The director is well known for “responding” to accidents but does not get to the accident sites, comes back to Nairobi empty handed with no reports and then sends investigators to the same accident sites to do the actual work.
The director, who is also a pilot of a single engine piston propelled light C206 aircraft and keeps on insisting on being called Captain runs two jobs. One as a civil servant and another one as a pilot hired for money. This is against the civil servants code of regulations. There is a very huge difference in his current total flying hours and hours as at January 2010 when he was hired as an air accident investigator by the Aaid. Never mind that you need minimal/minimum flying hours, around 10 to keep your flying licence current.
The ‘’captain’’ runs this small but pivotal department in aviation safety as a personal outfit. Air accident investigators working under him are unable to perform official duties effectively due to victimisation, intimidation, harassment, absolute lack of career progression, hostile environment, and outright denial of individual training opportunities despite availability of funds from development partners, the World Bank. One of his hobbies is keep the human resource department of the ministry busy in ensuring that threatening letters are sent to all staff working under him at all times. The director has PS Nduva’s ears and genuine complaints raised by the investigators have been met by curtness, inconsiderate blanket dismissal. Efforts made by the investigators to air their grievances with CS Kamau are always thwarted by their determined director.
In May 2012, the World Bank through the ministry sponsored him to attend the six weeks aircraft accident investigation course at the Cranfield University, UK. Two months later, he became the director of Aaid. As an investigator he never visited accident sites and so never wrote accident investigation reports. He was always absent from office attending Moi University Emba classes without permission from his employer. Since he became the director, he has never visited an accident site and has never written a report. In short the man does not know how to write one. He is a lame duck.
To cover up his shortcomings, he has reportedly resulted in requesting the PS to hire consultants who will be able to deal with the backlog of reports. This is not necessary. It is a way of looking for kickbacks from the dealings with consultants, it is said. The Jubilee government is against unnecessary hiring of consultants and instead insists on empowering existing staff working.
The director, it is said, is always against investigators working under him attending the same course he attended at Cranfield. Every effort is met with brunt force. His is to ensure that they receive mediocre training, more so from briefcase trainers, which will never rival his, it is claimed. This has led to lack of training in the department. Instead of pestering the World Bank to buy two 4x4 vehicles for the department, the director should be busy seeking funds from the same institution for training his staff, staff feel.
The director is overheard in the corridors of the ministry bragging of how he must travel outside Kenya to accompany investigators to do their work while he does personal shopping.
It is in the business of the director to seize reports done by investigators in time to present them to the PS and CS as his own without acknowledging the authors.