The Accident Investigation Bureau on Tuesday said it had resuscitated its $5.8 million unserviceable Flight Safety Laboratory equipment at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
AIB’s spokesman, Tunji Oketunbi, said in a statement that the bureau’s Commissioner, Akin Olateru, made the disclosure at a training in Abuja.
The training was facilitated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and Singaporean Government.
Olateru said that the agency had also trained staff on the handling of the laboratory equipment, which was constructed and equipped in 2012.
The commissioner noted that the management had signed a contract with a Canadian firm, CEA/Flightscape in 2011 to install state-of-the-art equipment in its new laboratory.
He said that the laboratory was designed to download information from Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder among others, which were necessary requirements for a thorough and accurate accident investigation.
Olateru said the facility was used to download the flight recorders of Associated Airlines’ aircraft crash of October 2013 with the assistance of the manufacturers of the laboratory despite the fact that the agency had not effected full payment.
However, he regretted that since the single usage in 2013, the facility had not been put to proper use due to lack of personnel to manage the laboratory, adding that there were also challenges from the manufacturer’s end.
He said: “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. 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 maximise the benefits of the facility. This is where ICAO has come in.”
Olateru said the optimum performance of the laboratory was central to the bureau’s contribution to safety in Nigeria and the sub-region.
He added that the management was not unaware of the expectation of ICAO and the West African sub-region from the nation’s AIB.
The AIB commissioner said the agency was determined to meet the expectations of ICAO, especially in the area of early release of accident reports.
Olateru said: “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.”
Also, ICAO’s representative, Caj Frostell, who is also the Commissioner for Banjul Accord Accident Investigation Agency, commended the AIB management for the great efforts it made to ensure that the facility was functional.
Frostell said he was impressed with the facility which was very important to safety in the sub-region.