The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has commended the Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) for its rich accident investigation programmes which are expected to enhance air safety in the country.
The Managing Director of NTSB, Mr. Denis Jones made the commendation while fielding questions from the media on the workshop organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in conjunction with the NTSB, for the agency’s staff at AIB headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
Participants were drawn from AIB, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), domestic airlines and members of the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA).
Jones said the programme had enabled the AIB to become a major player in the West African sub region in the areas of accident and incident investigations.
The NTSB boss also attributed the low rate of air crashes in Nigeria, Africa and around the world to high safety measures taken by civil aviation regulatory bodies, airlines and technology.
He explained that back in the 2000 and 1990s, accident rates were high but noted that since then a lot of safety efforts by a number of folks here in Nigeria and elsewhere have led to a lot of success unlike years ago. To him, “Africa has improved its accident safety record like other regions in the world”.
According to Jones, “I would say that I have been in over 30 countries in Africa on accident investigation, Nigeria’s AIB has a robust programme .I have been in the workshops around the region, we actually invited the Nigeria’s accident investigation to come, teach others, show others about the programme here in Nigeria. In many ways, it has been an exemplary programme for accident investigation for other regions.”
According to him, the training which is aimed at boosting the capacity of the participants is in continuation of what NTSB has been doing in the African region.
Not a few believed that the Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, and aircraft engineer has repositioned the agency which was just at the background and only remembered when there is a plane crash.
Olateru, since his appointment by the Federal Government on January 13, 2013 moved speedily to reposition the agency to one that is vibrant and result oriented by firstly resuscitating its almost moribund accident laboratory, training and retraining of workers, signing of a pact with University of Ilorin for students to use it for research purposes and the release of over seven accident reports in an unprecedented manner including recommendations that are far reaching.
Olateru, who recalled that when he took over as AIB Commissioner, ‘staff of the agency had not been trained for a long time because of paucity of funds’, added that he immediately swung into action by initiation a meeting with the NTSB and other international organisations to develop human capacity in the Bureau.
“This is the fall out of the meeting I had with the NTSB in the United States of America, his counterparts from ICAO and others. Right now in this workshop, we had been trained on strategy and others”, he said.
Also speaking, the AIB Commissioner, Mr Akin Olateru, said upon assumption of office, he discovered that 18 accident investigators, who were recruited since 2013, had never been trained due to paucity of funds.
He said the participants were taken through various aspects of accident investigation, including Annex 13 guidance materials; investigating organisational factors and human performance.
He said the essence of the workshop, which is also targeted at the Banjul Accord and the West Africa sub-region personnel, was not only for training but also to provide opportunity to discuss with the staff and share ideas.