The inability of pathologists and coroners to submit their final reports on the October 4, 2013 Associated Airline’s plane crash in Lagos is the major reason the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), has not published its final report on the accident.
This was the submission of the Commissioner of AIB, Dr. Felix Abali in an exclusive interview with Daily Times at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The plane, carrying the body of former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Agagu, crashed shortly after take-off in Lagos, killing some of the passengers and crew.
Abali said that if the challenges associated with pathologists and coroners handling the Associated Airlines plane crash, which claimed no fewer than 16 lives had been resolved, the AIB would have long ago released its final report on the crash.
He told Daily Times that it would be unprofessional for the agency to release the final report without looking critically at the inputs of pathologists and coroners, but gave assurance that such challenges would be resolved soon.
He added that in a bid to resolve such challenges in the future, AIB is currently working with a major pathologist in the country who he said has lots of connections with some of the hospitals in different states across the nation.
Abali said, “That takes us back to the problems we are having with coroners and pathologists. We are actually still waiting for their reports. Accidents as you know could be caused by a lot of factors. Assuming that one of the crew members was drunk, how do you determine this? It is through pathological reports that you can know the true state of health of such crewmember.
“If we don’t have such information, then the report is incomplete. We cannot go and publish something and leave out some aspects. What we have been doing is that we try to come to an understanding with them. We have been trying to write a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with them.
“As a matter of fact, we just started working with one of the pathologists who basically has a lot of connections with some of the hospitals in different states. These hospitals will work with this individual who will just report to us. If that works, I think the situation would be alleviated.”
Abali gave assurance that the aviation sector was safe for flying despite some accidents recently, but said that accidents could not be totally eradicated in the industry; rather, it could be reduced to the barest minimum.
“Aviation industry is safe globally and will always be safe. Till now, except the one that happened over Ukraine that the people know the cause of it, the other two or three, we don’t know the causes yet and I think in accident investigation, it is not always right to speculate. It doesn’t do the industry any good and it will not enhance safety in the system.
“Until the black boxes are discovered and the true causes of the accidents are known, we won’t be able to comment much on them. But, I want to emphasise here that aviation is still the safest mode of transportation anywhere in the world.”