Personnel of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) have left Nigeria for Sao Tome and Principe to begin investigation into the recent crash of an An-74 aircraft in that country.
The commissioner for AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru said the invitation to AIB came from São Tomé and Principe through the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), which is an arm of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
He said all costs and expense associated with the investigation would be borne 100 per cent by the government of São Tomé and Principe.
Olateru described the invitation as the “first of its kind” in AIB’s history and “coming on the heels of the rising performance profile of the Bureau and its determination to be preeminently relevant as a leader in accident investigation across the sub-Saharan region.”
He said AIB was pleased to be called upon to assist a sister African country adding that the agency was just living up to its billing as a pacesetter in the sub region.
“We are very pleased to be invited by BAGAIA to carry out this investigation, which is in recognition of, and an explicit expression of confidence in our capabilities and professionalism.
“Without gainsaying, this opportunity to serve will further build AIB’s capacity as it provides a platform for practical learning, develops and enhances the skills set and knowledge base of our accident investigators thereby increasing competency and promoting professionalism across the board.
“We are very mindful of BAGAIA’s expectation of us and from individual African countries alike; we cannot afford to let them down.
“We are deploying enormous resources into training and infrastructural development for AIB to be, and maintain its lead to fulfill its core mandate not only for Nigeria, but also for the sub region and the global aviation community. Training is capital intensive but we don’t seem to have an alternative if safety remains our focus,” said the commissioner.
He added that request “is an attestation to AIB’s capabilities and competency in terms of human and infrastructural resource readiness that can be deployed in assisting our sister African countries in times of need.
“It also underscores her importance and positioning in the conduct and delivery of aircraft accident investigation within sub-Saharan Africa.”
It would be recalled that an An-74 aircraft was performing takeoff roles in favorable weather on runway 29 in Sao Tome when at some point one or multiple birds collided with the aircraft.
The Russian aircraft, whilst doing an aborted take-off reportedly ran beyond the end of the runway where it fell down an embankment and was damaged beyond repair.
Although the aircraft was badly damaged, all the six crewmembers survived with injuries.
The aircraft was on a return flight to Europe after it arrived in Sao Tome from Stavanger, (Norway), Luxemburg and Ghardaia (Algeria).
The only runway at Sao Tome air4port is 2,160 meters (7,087 ft) in length and has only limited overrun capabilities.
Nigeria is the only country with an autonomous and functioning aviation accident investigation agency in West Africa and the most endowed in terms of facilities. The agency has a flight safety laboratory for the download and analysis of information from flight recorders and materials laboratory, both situated in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.