· Laments looting at crash sites
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) yesterday said it entered Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with relevant security agencies to secure aircraft accident sites.
The Bureau decried the incessant looting of crash sites in Nigeria lamenting such actions impede in their prompt investigation of civil air crashes.
Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Bureau, Mr. Akin Olatera who disclosed this in Enugu during the Southeast/South-South Regional Aviation Stakeholders Symposium held at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu said that on several occasions critical components that should have assisted in crash investigations were removed before the arrival of its officials to the site.
Olatera therefore, explained that the decision to involve Police, Army, Civil Defence and Road Safety in air crashes rescue operation was because they were everywhere and readily available to secure the crash scene.
The Commissioner/CEO who spoke through Bureau’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi also disclosed that a bill is already before the National Assembly to expand the scope of accident investigations of the Bureau to include rail, marine and road accidents.
Noting that removing aircraft components like black box and flight data recorders at crash scenes would do incalculable damage to accident investigation and undermine the safety of the people flying and those on ground, he said, “Experiences over the years have shown us that sometimes, crowd invasion at crash sites has led to the process of vital crash components being taken away. There was a crash in 2005 or 2006 involving Belleview Airline, where the flight recorders were taken away and were never found and those recorders were very critical to the investigation. Though we were able to conclude that investigation and unraveled what happened but that flight recorder would have given us faster insight into some of the things that happened.”
“That is why we have to come up with the idea of entering an MUO with security agencies like the Airforce, Army, the Police and Civil Defense to help us secure crash sites and also control the crowd. So that when we come, we won’t have a problem accessing the crash site and most of the equipment, if not all, so that evidence will be retrieved.”
On the collaboration with the Air Force, he said, “This collaboration will save the Air Force some money in terms of funds it allocates to downloading its Flight Data Recorders, commonly known as Black boxes abroad following an air crash. For AIB, the collaboration will benefit us in terms of accessing remote crash sites faster and easily since the Air Force has helicopters that can transport our investigators.
“We have trained their personnel and security personnel from the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps on air disaster management. Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are not left out in our collaborative efforts as AIB has MoUs with the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), and University of Lagos (UNILAG) on the use of its material science laboratory.”