The Commissioner and Chief Executive of Accident Investigation Bureau(AIB), Engr. Sam Oduselu, has stressed the need for an autonomous accident investigation agency saying such independence would eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks and make decision making smooth and swift in the event of any eventuality.
Oduselu, who stated this in Gaborone, Botswana at a separate regional Accident/Incident Investigation Workshop organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in conjunction with the Accident Investigation Section at ICAO headquarters and the Safe Skies for Africa(SSA) therefore urged African countries to ensure the independence of their aircraft accident investigation and maximise the benefits of such autonomy in order to raise the bar of safety in the region.
The AIB chief said that ICAO’s recommendation that contracting states should separate their accident investigation bodies from the regulatory and supervising authorities was in order and should be complied with.
“The ICAO recommendation to states to free their accident investigation bodies from other agencies is very much in the right direction. I will enjoin all African states to comply with this. The autonomy of such accident investigation bodies must, however, be allowed to be fully realised. This is how to maximise the benefits it offers the industry,” he declared.
Commenting on the benefits of granting autonomy to accident investigation agency and using Nigeria as an example, Oduselu said: “Unlike when it was a department under the ministry, decision making at AIB is now very smooth and swift. Most decisions can be taken without deferring to the ministry or go through the civil service red tape. We dispatch investigators to accident sites immediately we are notified.
“Although it may not be enough, there is no doubt that accident investigation has received more funding since the agency became autonomous. Capable hands were recruited without going through the rigours of government rules.”
The workshop which attracted participants from states in the Eastern and Southern African countries was put together to provide an opportunity for accident/incident investigators and manufacturers’ representatives to share their expertise and experience and explore further ideas on intra-regional co-operation.
The AIB commissioner was invited to the event to share Nigeria’s experience as the only country in the West African sub-region whose accident investigation agency has been granted autonomy.