The Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria (AIB-N), Engr. Akin Olateru has called on all Nigerian airlines to establish a unit for accident investigation in their respective organizations to enhance air safety. 

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Olateru was speaking while receiving the investigation team from Cameroon probing the crash of the Havilland DHC -6-400 Twin Otter operated by Caverton Cameroon at the Bureau’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the Bureau’s General Manager, Public Affairs Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, and made available to Transport Day, the Commissioner said this would help the airlines to understand and take advantage of the benefits of accident investigation to boost safety in their operations, adding that big carriers like American Airlines have such units, which has greatly benefited the carriers and it’s the responsibility of everyone to have an understanding of accident investigation in Africa.

The Commissioner further disclosed that when fully commissioned AIB-N training school will play significant role in training airlines’ personnel in accident investigation, which will help them in investigating occurrences with a view to enhancing safety in their operations. 

The AIB Training School, a world-class training institution located in Abuja is near completion and is expected to commence operations before the end of the year. Singapore and the other two countries, according to Olateru, have signified readiness to assist the AIB training school. The Cameroonian delegation led by Mrs. Leopoldine Essimi of the Ministry of Transport included Col. Brice Okomou, Capt. Raymond Ekenglo and Mrs. Mispa Samnick. 

Speaking on behalf of the Cameronian team, Essimi, said they were in Nigeria to seek AIB-N expertise in the reading of the flight recorders, transcription of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and analysis of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and FDR animation. 

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The DHR-6-400 Twin Otter (registered TJ-TIM) was operating Yaoundé (Nsimalen) – Dompta – Yaoundé (Nsimalen) on May 11, 2022, when it crashed killing all the passengers and crew members. The aircraft was found crashed in a forest, not far from Nanga Eboko.

Caverton Helicopters Cameroon DHC-6-400 Twin Otter crashes in Cameroon; no survivors
Caverton Helicopters Cameroon DHC-6-400 Twin Otter crashes in Cameroon; no survivors

According to Olateru, Nigeria was part of the investigation in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 13 since there were Nigerians onboard the ill-fated aircraft, however, Cameroon has not decided whether it would cede the investigation completely to Nigeria or not. 

The Commissioner said Nigeria will be assisting Cameroon in the investigation with her Flight Safety Laboratory, which according to him is one of the best in the world currently. 

The laboratory has an upgraded facility called Memory Access Retriever System (MARS), which will be deployed to retrieve information from the CVR, which was badly burnt and damaged. 

 “As you are aware, we have one of the best safety laboratories in the world. We have the capability, which the United States NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has, which is getting information from burnt or damaged flight recorders. This aircraft crashed and a recorder badly burnt but we will be able to retrieve the information. This is one of the best equipment you can find in the world today.” the Commissioner noted.

The two countries are however exploring areas of cooperation and collaboration that can boost accident investigation and air safety in Africa. 

“You will understand that this is not the first time Nigeria will be helping other nations. We helped Sao Tome and Principe during an investigation. We helped Gambia. We helped Niger republic. We are helping Sierra Leone. We just got an approval from the Ministry of Justice to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sierra Leone to help them set up an accident investigation body. This is where we are today. “ He said.