The Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Dr. Felix Abali has called for restraint from the public on issues bordering on aircraft accident or incident in the aviation industry.
He said accident investigations are not based on sentiments or emotions but in line with regulations prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Speaking Tuesday at the stakeholders forum on draft amendment to AIB regulations in Lagos, Abali declared that the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, Annex 13, has specifically prescribed the sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident.
Such role he said is to prevent recurrent of accidents and incidents.
He explained that the purpose of such activity is not to apportion blame or liability, even as he said reports of aircraft accidents however run against the expectation of members of the public.
He however said this is understandable due to the emotionally – laden atmosphere that usually accompanies air mishaps anywhere in the world.
He added: “It is also not unusual to find many people eager to know the cause of aircraft accidents, even in a matter of days. So are we but accident investigation process is more complex that many often imagine. We must be painstaking and thorough so as to arrive at a conclusion that is not only fair and transparent but can also be scientifically proven.
“Besides the accident site investigation that is usually open to the public, accident investigation entails gathering information from diverse sources including documentations such as maintenance and personnel records, regulatory authority records, flight planning documents and operators manuals.
“Other sources are recordings such as flight recorders, interviews, direct observations of actions performed by operating or maintenance personnel in their work environment, simulations, specialist advice, safety databases and so on.
“There are also statutory processes to be engaged before reports are released to the public. All these take time. It is therefore important to appeal to the public and concerned citizens to please show some understanding and patience during air mishaps.
“It may also be apt to enjoin some people who always try to preempt accident investigations to apply the brake and allow AIB to do its job.”
Abali said the ongoing amendment of the current regulations would make the document to be more robust, transparent and all inclusive.
He insisted that review is the livewire of any organisation that is serious about growth and progress, stressing that the agency’s experience in Nigeria and in the globe had made it imperative for the current regulations, which came on board on November 11, 2006 to be reviewed.
He explained that Nigeria as a country cannot not operate in isolation of others, stressing that it was necessary for it to align itself with happenings in the global aviation industry.
Abali said regulation is an important tool for carrying out the functions of accident investigation as it sets out the framework for the day-to-day operations of the bureau and added that the bureau’s enabling law, which also domesticated International Civil Aviation Organisation’s, ICAO, Annex 13, formed the bedrock of the regulations.
He hinted that one of the major mandates and responsibilities of AIB is to make safety recommendations in case of an incident or accident, but declared that it was not in its purview to enforce compliance, rather, the responsibility of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.
He added: “We only monitor implementations of our recommendations. Accident investigation process is more complex than many people imagine. So, we must be thorough in our findings and recommendations. There are statutory processes to be engaged before the recommendations are released to the public.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has reiterated that the Federal Government would continue to take the issue of safety and security of all airport users as critical.
He also expressed that the amendment process had been duly followed as stipulated in the subsisting Regulation, 2006 with the participation of the observer to the bureau’s regulation committee reporting back to the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the amendments.
Sirika who was represented at the occasion by the Special Adviser, Technical, Capt. Nuhu Musa believed that all relevant amendments by the agency were in conformity with the ICAO Annex 13 on Accident Investigation, which had been included in the first regulations.
Also, Mrs. Maureen Tsenongo of AIB, in her presentation declared that the essence of the amendment was for the industry to move forward and improve incident or accident investigation. Noting that before the review, technical personnel in AIB took a careful look at the current regulation.