The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), a government agency responsible for the investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents with a view to proffering safety recommendations capable of preventing future reoccurrence of similar events is in urgent need of additional funding to perform this chore.
Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the AIB, Engineer Akin Olateru revealed this when he briefed Journalists in Abuja during the weekend on the activities culminating in the one-week training of personnel to handle AIB’s state of the art accident investigation laboratory.
The Commissioner disclosed that AIB currently has 30 accident investigations in progress, saying funding was essential in order to acquire equipment, infrastructure and training of manpower among other issues of importance.
“These lofty goals however cannot be achieved without adequate funding. The current financial situation of the Bureau calls for urgent attention by the government considering the fact that accident Investigation is a social responsibility of the government worldwide.
“I am happy to inform you that the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transport both of the United States of America (USA) have agreed to come and train our investigators later in the year. We are also getting good responses from several stakeholders to partner with us in human capacity development and maximization of AIB potentials. We shall not relent until we have taken AIB to the glorious height it deserves to be,” he said.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) representative, Mr. Caj Frostel who is also the Commissioner for Banjul Accord Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA) and Mr. Micheal Toft, an expert on Flight Safety Laboratory and the head of the Air Accident Investigation department of Singapore Transport Safety Board were on hand to support.
“Mr. Toft is here to do a technical evaluation of the laboratory and train our staff on how to manage the facility for best results. He has been training our select staff since Monday. The optimum performance of the laboratory is central to our contribution to safety in Nigeria and the sub-region. We are not unaware of the expectation of ICAO and the West African Sub Region from Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau.
“We are much more determined to meet the expectation of Nigerians to have early release of accident reports. To this end we are engaging all necessary quarters to ensure that our investigators who have not been trained since they were employed about four years ago are well trained as investigators”, Olateru said.
The trainer, Michael Toft who expressed delight in the interest of the trainees to learn said, “they were quite inquisitive. They kept asking questions and for a trainer, that was a good sign.”
While thanking the Minister of State (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika for his interventions to save AIB, Engineer Olateru stressed the resolve of the Bureau in promoting safety in aviation, which is the cornerstone of the vibrant industry.
In order to enhance its capacity to determine the causes of aviation mishaps, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in 2011 signed a contract worth over 5.8 million dollar with a Canadian Firm, CEA/Flightscape of Canada to install state-of-the-art equipment in its new laboratory.
The laboratory was designed to, among others, download information from Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Corkpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which are necessary requirements for a thorough and accurate accident investigation. There are other uses of the facility but all point to improved aviation safety.