By Chinelo Obogo
Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has said that Nigeria’s airspace is the safest in the world, as the country has had only three deaths in six years.
Speaking at the 26th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) which held in Lagos recently, Olateru said that despite the recent shutting down of two domestic airlines, all the Nigerian operators are safe and that no country can boast of such a feat.
He attributed the feat to the competence of the aviation agencies, saying that they ensure that they do their jobs meticulously, while also revealing that most of the safety recommendations issued by the AIB have been implemented.
“Nigeria has the best safety records in the world. In the last six years, we have only lost three persons unfortunately to a helicopter crash at Opebi but I don’t know how many countries in the world that can boast of such a record. How did that happen? It is not by luck or accident. It is because the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is doing their job and the Accident Investigation Bureau doing their job, investigating incidents and issuing the right safety recommendations to prevent recurrence and at the end of the day, it is about everyone doing what they are supposed to do.
“Most of the safety recommendations that we have come up with after we release our reports have been implemented. Those issued to the aircraft manufacturer have been implemented, some to the regulator and some to the airport and some to NAMA and some to NiMeT and we have a system in place where we follow up and we have worked with the NCAA where we monitor those safety recommendations. There are still some serious incidents that we are investigating and about three will be released in the coming weeks,” Olateru said.
On the shutting down of Dana Air and Aero Contractors, he said: “All the airlines in Nigeria are safe and if there is any infraction, which is the job of the NCAA to do. I know that there are challenges right now like the challenges of aviation fuel, foreign exchange and others is something that the government is doing something about. The AON and the minister met recently to discuss the way forward and it is something that the government is doing something about. I believe that with time, those challenges will be gone.”
On getting approval for wet lease of three aircraft for Nigeria Air, Olateru disagreed with those who condemned the move, insisting that even though the wet lease is temporary, jobs like ground handling services would still be created.
“This is aviation. The more aircraft and the more jobs are created because you would need the ground handling companies to manage it. I am also sure that some of the cabin crew members would be Nigerians. Moreover, this is a temporary arrangement, it is not going to be permanent,” he said.
On the achievements of his administration, Olateru “We are constantly doing what we do. In terms of human capital, we are constantly training and re-training and in terms of equipment, we are constantly updating and adding more. In terms of infrastructure, before the end of this year, AIB will commission the first Accident Investigation Training School in Africa which would be located in Abuja. So, there are lots of programmes going on right now that would come up very soon.”