Commissioner's Speech at the Press Briefing marking the end of one-week familiarization of training on the use of Flight Safety Laboratory by ICAO and Singaporean Government on 14th July, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gentlemen of the press,

It is my delight to welcome you to Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) for this important press briefing. AIB is a government agency responsible for the investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents with a view to proffering safety recommendations that can help in preventing future re-occurrence of similar events. By doing this the Bureau promotes 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 Canada to install a state-of-the-art equipment in its new laboratory. The laboratory was designed to, among others, download information from Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit 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.

The laboratory was installed in 2012 although full payment were yet to be effected. The facility was put to use to download the flight recorders of Associated Airlines' aircraft crash of 2013 with the assistance of the manufacturers of the laboratory. Since then the facility has not been put to proper use due to lack of human capacity in-house to manage the laboratory even as there were challenges from the manufacturer's end.

The summary of the matter is that the laboratory was not working when I took over as the Commissioner. I made it a priority to resuscitate the laboratory considering its importance to the discharge of AIB's responsibilities. I galvanised all the necessary quarters to achieve this mission. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Singaporean government agreed to help.

First I charged our ICT compound to get the laboratory running, which they successfully did. So I can confidently tell you that the laboratory is working. However, we need the in-house capacity to manage it and maximize the benefits of the facility. This is where ICAO has come in. Today we have here the 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. 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 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 determined to meet these expectations. In doing this we are much more determined to meet the expectation of Nigerians to have early release of accident reports. One of my cardinal programmes since I resumed as the chief executive here is to ensure that all outstanding reports are released at the earliest possible time. This is one critical way of affecting aviation safety positively. 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.

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.

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. We want to thank the Honourable Minister of State (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika for his interventions to save AIB.

We remain very focused in our quest to align AIB to its core mandates and ensure its relevance to Aviation development.

Thank you.

Signed By
Tunji Oketunbi