YK Poudel and Sherab Lhamo

Singapore and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MoIT) and the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) of Singapore to enhance aviation safety. 

MoIT Secretary Phuntsho Tobgay and Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Transport in Singapore Yee Ping Yi signed the agreement in Thimphu marking an important milestone in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The objective of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation in the field of aircraft accident and incident investigation, with a focus on addressing Bhutan’s aviation safety oversight shortcomings.

Both countries aim to enhance the capacity of Bhutan’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), which currently operates under the MoIT. This partnership will enable TSIB, Singapore to provide assistance in conducting investigations into aircraft accidents and serious incidents. It will also facilitate the exchange of technical expertise and information, thereby bolstering cooperation between the two nations. 

Deputy Secretary Yee Ping Yi emphasised the importance of aviation safety. “The MoU reflects its significance and a need for a dedicated team to work on aviation safety, although the frequency of accidents and deaths has declined globally.” 

He also said that the MoU symbolises the warm relations between Singapore and Bhutan and their shared commitment to enhancing aviation safety.

Secretary Phuntsho Tobgay acknowledged the existing constraints faced by Bhutan’s AAIU in terms of human resources and technical capacity.

“Bhutan has been relying on foreign investigators and researchers due to its lack of resources and expertise. With this MoU, we will be able to enable knowledge-sharing and access to capacity for AAIU, both in terms of routine aircraft inspection and accident and incident investigation,” he said.

Under the provisions of the MoU, Singapore and Bhutan will work together to strengthen cooperation in aircraft accident and incident investigation, investigation training, and the sharing of information and expertise. 

The partnership between TSIB, Singapore, and AAIU, Bhutan has been developing since 2016, laying the foundation for the current collaboration.