Commission’s recommendations remain for PNGDF

The Accident Investigation Commission’s recommendations to the PNG Defence Force to address safety concerns with the use of its lone aircraft, CASA, will remain open until there is concrete evidence that all has been rectified.

The recommendations from AIC resulted from an investigation into the operations of CASA after it breached a few Civil Aviation Safety regulations.  

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force is not subjected to Civil Aviation Rules and Regulations however, AIC Chief Commissioner, Hubert Namani, says its operations are a risk to civil aviation.  

“I’ve raised concerns directly with the Commander of PNG Defence Force, he has responded,” Namani stated.

“We can only make recommendations and we have raised serious safety concerns.

“In the absence of a one sky policy in this country, we are mindful of the risk the military aircraft has on civil aviation. As well as that, we know that the military aircraft has been carrying civilians around, also a risk to them, using military aircraft.

“We’ve done our bit and hope the Defence Force will do their bit and not compromise the safety of civil aviation in this country.”

The Accident Investigation Commission stepped in to investigate the PNGDF air operations when its CASA CN235-100M aircraft landed on a closed runway in Goroka on December 2nd 2017, while runway works were in progress.

The aircraft was observed to continue along the closed runway before backtracking to a taxiway that was also closed for works, in order to taxi to and enter the active runway, 35 Right.

Further investigations revealed that the crew on CASA had not obtained a vital document known as Notice To Airmen or NOTAM, which would have notified them of the work on the runway.

But that issue has been resolved following this serious incident.

According to AIC, the PNGDF Air Transport Wing took immediate safety action and established procedures to routinely receive NOTAMs electronically.

But following this incident, AIC took the liberty of investigating further safety on CASA and found another problem with its propeller gear box.

AIC investigations manager, Allan Stray, said: “In this case, the propeller gear box was not a serviceable unit and it’s still on the aircraft.

“We understood the aircraft has not flown since the 4th of January and we understand it will not by flying until the gear box is replaced.

“We will maintain an active status on our recommendations until we get clear evidence that the gear box has been replaced with a serviceable unit and when that happens, we will make a closure statement on the recommendations on our website.”

AIC says the right engine propeller gearbox (PGB) had been in storage for 7 years.

Storage preservation requirements state that a PGB in storage for more than 36 months or 3 years must be inspected in an engine overhaul facility before fitment to an engine.

That however, was not carried out prior to the PGB being fitted to the right engine on CASA CN235-100M aircraft, registered P2-502 in 2016, and the PGB remains on the aircraft.

“The PGB is classified as unserviceable and therefore the aircraft was un-airworthy at the time of the serious incident,” said the AIC. 

(The Goroka Airport runway)

Charmaine Poriambep