Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Greg Hood has handed over the gavel as the chair of the International Transportation Safety Association (ITSA) after completing an unprecedented two-year term presiding over the international network of the heads of 18 independent transport safety investigation authorities.

During the conclusion of a two-day virtual annual meeting of ITSA member heads this week, Mr Hood officially transitioned the position of ITSA chair to Dr Veli-Pekka Nurmi, executive director and professor at the Safety Investigation Authority Finland.

“Being chair of ITSA for two consecutive years – a first in the association’s history – was a great responsibility and privilege, particularly at a time when the world has been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and when safe and efficient transport networks were needed like never before,” Mr Hood said.

“I wish Dr Nurmi all the very best as the incoming chair of ITSA for the next 12 months. I would also like to thank all ITSA members for their support during my tenure, and for their well wishes ahead of my retirement next month.”

The mission of ITSA is to improve transport safety in each member country by learning from the experiences of others. The case studies from member countries shared during this week’s annual conference covered a wide range of aviation, rail, marine and infrastructure incidents and accidents, and amplified their findings and safety messaging.

“The use of high-fidelity animations to clearly demonstrate ‘what happened’ during an accident sequence and to help influence change by highlighting an investigation’s safety messaging has become more prevalent over recent years in a number of countries, including Australia,” Mr Hood noted.

“Using this form of visual media to help share safety learnings is proving to be very valuable, and will no doubt evolve further in the coming years.”

While international travel restrictions deferred the regular in-person ITSA annual meeting for two years in a row, Mr Hood hopes the ATSB will one day host ITSA members in Australia.

“Due to COVID-19, the ITSA 2020 and 2021 conferences, intended to held in Sydney, evolved into a virtual experience, which proved to be a valuable platform for sharing safety information and pursuing best practices in independent ‘no blame’ transport safety investigations,” Mr Hood said.

“No doubt, the ITSA conference will have another opportunity to head down under in the future, which will not only afford members the opportunity to witness Australia’s transport safety environment first-hand, but will also allow for many members to experience the beauty of Australia for the first time.”