Monday 21 May 2018
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, today announced details of the independent review of Search and Rescue (SAR) oversight recommended in the interim statement by the Air Accident Investigation Unit on their on-going investigation into the tragic loss of Coast Guard Rescue 116 and its crew in March 2017.
“The AAIU report called for a thorough review of the current arrangements in place to oversee SAR aviation operations in Ireland. This will be conducted by an independent team of experts over the coming months. The team I have appointed will be led by Professor Jules Kneepkens who brings vast experience in the international regulatory field. His team also includes a blend of SAR operational and ICAO audit expertise – all of which should ensure the review meets the requirements of the AAIU’s recommendation.”
The aim of the review is ultimately to ensure that Ireland ‘s arrangements in this regard are sufficiently robust and measure up to international best practice models. Minister Ross added: As well as the independent review team, I am delighted that a number of other Coast Guards have offered to assist in the review process, thereby bringing a variety of international insights and experience to the final report and recommendations. I believe this is a reflection of the level of interest internationally in learning lessons at all levels from this tragic accident”.
The terms of reference agreed by the Minister for the review will take account of the various findings made in the AAIU’s interim statement in relation to oversight. It will examine practices and procedures within the various entities involved in SAR aviation oversight. It will also identify any gaps or lack of clarity in terms of roles, legal vires, processes, training, resources and/or personnel within these organisations to carry out their oversight of SAR aviation operations. It will then make recommendations on practical measures to address these to ensure oversight arrangements for SAR aviation operations in Ireland measure up to international best practice in terms of effectiveness, continuity, comprehensiveness and independence. A number of other Coast Guards have offered to assist in the process and this will ensure a wide variety of international experience and insights are brought to the review.
Minister concluded: The early appointment of Professor Jules Kneepkens and his team will enable me to report good progress to the AAIU by mid-June (which is the next reporting milestone for the various safety recommendations in their on-going investigation). I am confident that we will have a final report by end of July which can chart a way forward for SAR oversight in Ireland”.
Note to editors:
The AAIU interim statement is available at www.aaiu.ie
The three person consultancy team is led by Prof. Jules Kneepkens, former EASA Rulemaking Director, Director General of Civil Aviation in Belgium and Civil Aviation Director in the Netherlands. Mr Kneepkens is highly experienced in the development and implementation of the European Aviation Regulations as well as Search and Rescue requirements and he regularly advises EU and non-EU-authorities on the EU/EASA regulatory structure and operational regulations. The team also includes Mr. Rowan Greenwood and Mr Milen Dentchev. Mr Greenwood is a former Search and Rescue commander with Bristow Helicopters Ltd operating on the UK HM Coastguard contract 1989-2005. Mr Greenwood subsequently joined the Civil Aviation Authority UK and spent seven years as a Flight Operations (Training) Inspector responsible for the legal and safety oversight of UK Helicopter AOCs, including charter, offshore, HEMS, Police and SAR operators. In 2014 Mr Greenwood left the CAA to join Bristow Group Inc. as the Director, Global SAR Operations and presently operates as an independent consultant. Mr. Dentchev has worked for the International Civil Aviation Organisation as Safety Oversight Auditor in the Safety Oversight Audit section of USOAP in Montreal. He has been team leader of numerous USOAP audits in Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. He was also a certified ANS and AIG auditor and conducted several audits in European States, including the Russian Federation, Turkey, Armenia and Ukraine. Mr Dentchev has also worked for EASA in the standardisation directorate. It is expect that the review should conclude within two months and a report with recommendations will be published.
Terms of Reference for Review
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, as the issuing authority for the Irish National Maritime Search and Rescue Framework, should carry out a thorough review of SAR aviation operations in Ireland to ensure that there are appropriate processes, resources and personnel in place to provide effective, continuous, comprehensive and independent oversight of all aspects of these operations.
In carrying out the review as described in the AAIU’s interim statement of 14 March 2018, the reviewer should focus in particular on:
- the specific reports, audits and frameworks highlighted in the AAIU’s interim statement in relation to oversight arrangements for Search and Rescue (SAR) aviation operations, including any follow-up actions arising from these;
- the practices and procedures in place for oversight of SAR aviation operations within the IAA, as the national aviation regulator and the Irish Coast Guard, as the tasking authority for SAR aviation operations, and any other entities deemed relevant, and benchmark these in terms of their effectiveness, continuity, comprehensiveness and independence against models of best practice internationally (ideally using analogous models of SAR provision);
- the legal basis underpinning the oversight roles related to SAR aviation operations;
- the resourcing of these roles and processes within each organisation.
Based on a thorough review of these and any other issues determined by the Reviewer as relevant to the AAIU recommendation, the review should:
- identify any gaps or lack of clarity in terms of roles, legal vires, processes, training, resources and/or personnel within these organisations to carry out their oversight of SAR aviation operations; and
- make recommendations on practical measures to address these to ensure oversight arrangements for SAR aviation operations in Ireland measure up to international best practice in terms of effectiveness, continuity, comprehensiveness and independence.
In order to meet the requirements of the recommendation in the AAIU’s interim statement, the review will need to be completed as a matter of urgency.