AIB, ICAO set to partner on $5.5m safety laboratory equipment

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Commissioner/CEO, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engr. Akin Olateru with Commissioner, Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) representative, Mr Caj Frostell, at the end of a training for AIB staff on the use of Flight Safety Laboratory located at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja ...... at the weekend.

Plans have reached an advanced stage by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to partner with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), on the usage of its Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) laboratory equipment.
This is as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) and airlines in the oil service sector have all shown interest to also join in with the bureau in order to increase safety in the system.

The equipment, which was constructed, equipped in 2013 and sited in Federal Capital Territory cost the accident investigator about $5.5 million. The equipment in the laboratory system was purchased from CAE/Flight Scape in Canada. But, since the laboratory was built, it was yet to be put into maximum use.

Facts to the ICAO partnership emerged recently when the management team of AIB, led by its Commissioner, Engr. Akin Olateru hosted the President, ICAO, Dr. Olumuyiwa Aliu at its headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. Olateru said that the facility and the material laboratory would be repositioned for improved performance and public usage.

Nigeria’s representative to ICAO Council, Capt. Nuhu Musa, in an earlier meeting with Olateru said it was the responsibility of ICAO to assist Nigeria to overcome its challenges. Musa stated that the multi-billion naira accident investigation laboratory should become functional and equipped, so that African countries under the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Association (BAGAIA) could make use of it.

To show the seriousness of ICAO, President, Aliu and the Director-General of BAGAIA, Mr. Carl Frostel had visited the flight safety laboratory for on-the-spot assessment, which they believed was critical to accident investigation in the sub-region.
Shortly after it was installed, the laboratory was used for analysis of the 2013 Associated Airlines’ crash to a wide applause of an appreciated aviation public because the result was released in a record time.

However, the flight safety laboratory project was stalled for almost three years due to lack of in-house manpower to manage the facility while the complete installation of the facility by the manufacturer was also delayed as a result of paucity of funds. But, the appointment of Olateru as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/ Commissioner changed all that with his enthusiasm to bring back the facilities to full use.

The full usage of the flight safety laboratory, which is the first of its kind in the sub-region, brings to an end the practice of going overseas for analysis of data in the aftermath of air accidents in the country. With the laboratory coming on stream, AIB, will be saving the nation a huge sums of money in hard currency in the event of a crash. Besides, the material laboratory is expected to be patronised by institutions of higher learning, industries in the country and other stakeholders who may need the services of the laboratory for tests and researches.

Scheduled airlines too can use the flight safety laboratory. With this, they do not have to wait till they have an accident or incident before taking precautionary measures that will enhance safety of their equipment.

The laboratory is essentially to download and analyse data from flight recorders of accident and non-accident aircraft for investigation and prevention purposes. It has the capacity to electronically reconstruct and provide animation of an accident flight, using data from the FDR/Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) Audio.

This latest initiative on flight safety dates back to February 2011, when a foreign technical company, CAE Flightscape of Canada was awarded the contract to install the facility in Nigeria.

The core of the laboratory, the company hinted at the time, will be its Flightscape Insight Software Suite used by numerous air safety investigators at aircraft manufacturers and investigation authorities.

By Tunji Oketunbi at 26 Jul 2017, 19:04 PM
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