News: Saudi safety investigator embraces global outreach

Saudi Arabian aviation safety investigator Abdulrahman Younis is the first from his country to attend an ATSB training course—but he promises there will be many more to come.

Saudi Arabian aviation safety investigator Abdulrahman Younis with ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood

Mr Younis is one of 30 attendees at the ATSB’s Human Factors for Transport Safety Investigators course. The course provides an overview of human factors in safety-critical systems in aviation, marine and rail industries.

“Saudi Arabia is experiencing a period of exceptional growth in aviation,” Mr Younis said. “With this has come responsibilities under the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“In 2013 our Aviation Investigation Bureau (AIB) became independent of our civil aviation authority. A key responsibility as an independent safety investigator is to have the capacity to undertake aircraft accident and incident investigations.

“Since 2013 the Bureau has sought many opportunities to open channels of communication and mean of cooperation and collaboration in relation to aviation safety and accident investigations, both regionally and internationally. My learning opportunity here at the ATSB in Canberra is an example of that and one for which I am very thankful.”

A graduate of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US and continuing studies of Safety and Accident Investigation (MSc at Cranfield University, UK), Mr Younis spent 27 years with Saudi Arabian Airlines in engineering, training, assessment and inspection positions before moving into Technical Investigation with the AIB. After three years he was appointed Director of Investigations.

The AIB has currently a total of 32 staff responsible for all aviation incidents and accidents. With four international airports and 23 regional and domestic airports, Saudi air travel is undergoing rapid growth which puts more burden on the AIB to promote aviation safety.

“With our responsibilities for investigation, we are committed to outreach with other investigative agencies, regionally and internationally” Mr Younis said.

“We visited the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and the BEA of France in 2013 to benefit from their experience and knowledge as independent investigation authorities. In 2014, we visited the Australian ATSB. In 2015 we went to the Canadian TSB and US-NTSB Boards. And in 2016 we visited Singapore, Russia and China and have developed Memoranda of Understanding with them.

The ATSB is a very well respected authority internationally and our AIB can benefit from an exchange of knowledge and information.

“In 2017, the AIB hosted ICAO/ACAC-MID workshop to enhance the mechanism and set a road map for establishing a regional accident investigation organization comprising the Middle East and North African states.

“Regionally we have ties with both the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. The AIB has a goal to develop an MOU with the ATSB and have opened a dialogue to share knowledge and expertise.

“The ATSB is a very well respected authority internationally and our AIB can benefit from an exchange of knowledge and information.

“We will certainly seek to involve our investigators in further training opportunities with the ATSB and to participate in accident drills and under water search of flight recorders.”

Mr Younis says the AIB has developed service level agreements with Saudi Arabian organisations with facilities that would prove useful in accident investigations. These include the Saudi coast guard, Saudi universities, research centres and other government agencies.

He has enjoyed his time in Canberra and Sydney but will warn future course attendees of the potential for cold in Canberra. “It has been a little cooler than what I expected. I was told maybe 10 degrees minimum,” he said. “It’s been a bit less than that in the mornings. But lovely nonetheless. I have told my wife I would like to bring her to Australia for a holiday in the future.”

Last update 12 May 2017