By Chris Agabi
The Nigerian airspace is the safest in Africa, the Director General, Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Engr. Akin Olateru has said.
He said with two fatal accidents in over a decade, Nigeria’s aviation safety has the best record in Africa.
Engr. Olateru spoke on Thursday in Abuja at the just concluded Africa 7th Aviation Africa Summit & Exhibition.
He said “In the last 10 years, there have been two fatal civil accidents leading to the unfortunate loss of 9 souls in Nigeria”.
Speaking on “Nigeria Evolving Approach To Aviation Safety And Learning From Occurrence Investigation – The NSIB Experience.” at the 7th Aviation Africa Summit held in Abuja, Olateru said between 2005 and 2023, 78 accidents and serious incidents have occurred in the country with four incidents in the Safety Bulletin amounting to 82 while 260 safety recommendations have been issued by his agency within the period with 12 incidents in the Safety Bulletin totalling 272 safety recommendations.
A statement by Dr. James Odaudu, the Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection further indicated that the NSIB safety recommendations have had key impacts on safety and security of Nigeria’s airspace.
The safety recommendations, and their appreciable implementation and enforcements, were largely responsible for the safety successes recorded since the inception of the current NSIB administration he said.
Explaining the legislative changes and transition of legislative responsibilities over the years, Olateru said “there were 154 accidents, 46 of which were fatal between 1948 and 2005 with a total fatality of 1,445 passengers. Initially, Civil Aviation Department (CAD) of the Ministry of Aviation handled aviation occurrence investigation as well as Airworthiness Certification. This created a peculiar challenge of the Regulator also being the Investigator.
“How could the Regulator be expected to objectively investigate herself and hold herself accountable in cases were contributing causes of occurrences were traced to poor or non-existent regulatory oversight function and enforcement by her?” he asked.
“It was becoming clear that we had to re-jig our Aviation safety regulations and Accident Investigation and bring them to par with relevant ICAO annexes and international best practices.”
NSIB, he said, now embodies the evolving approach to aviation safety and learning from occurrence investigation which has led to safer skies over Nigeria.
He listed the evolving approach to include Separation of investigative from regulatory Functions, granting autonomy and investigative independence to the Investigator (NSIB) and emphasis on Early release of Accident Reports.
Others are: Synergy between Regulator (NCAA) and Investigator (NSIB) in the monitoring and enforcement of Safety Recommendations, MOUs for collaboration with neighboring countries to help with investigations, and sharing of facilities and information.
The NSIB boss also identified development of mechanism for early reporting of occurrence, development of identified technical skills amongst NSIB staff, engaging the public and stakeholders on the need to report occurrences as soon as they happen or become aware of them (Mandatory & voluntary) as part of the evolving approaches to accident investigation in Nigeria, as well as training of First Responders on what to do at accident sites and keeping an occurrence database for the purpose of analysis to Identify Trends and Patterns.