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Why accident rate dropped in Nigeria, Africa, by US expert

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Why accident rate dropped in Nigeria, Africa, by US expert

Managing Director, United States apex accident investigation body, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Denis Jones, has attributed the low rate of air crashes in Africa and around the world to high safety measures taken by civil aviation regulatory bodies, the airlines and technology.

Jones said this at a workshop organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in conjunction with the NTSB, for the agency’s staff at AIB headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos. He said that accident rate in Africa has reduced significantly just like in other regions of the world. His words:

“Back in the 2000 and 1990s, it was high, but since then, a lot of safety efforts by a number of folks here in Nigeria and elsewhere have recorded a lot of success unlike years ago. Africa has improved it’s accident safety record like other regions in the world. “I can’t speak on the statistics. However, I have been coming here for a few years.

The accident rate, not only in Africa, but all over the years has lowered very significantly. With the statistics generated by ICAO and others, African region is at par with the rest of the world in terms of safety record.

” There are indications that stringent IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) has helped to improve safety records in the continent and many other places as accident rates keeps dropping year-in-year-out. Virtually all Nigerian carriers are now IOSA-certified, coupled with the Abuja Declaration of 2012, which made IATA Safety Audit mandatory for African airlines.

Aside that, the Netherlands- based ASN, which compiles a global accident database, looked at crashes worldwide of civil aircraft carrying at least 14 passengers and found there were 19 fatal airliner accidents involving 325 deaths.

The network’s statistics include acts such as suicide, sabotage and hijackings that can be excluded from some analyses. Although this was up from 16 accidents in 2015, it still made 2016 the second safest year ever by number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities. By comparison, 560 people died in 2015, while the year of the lowest number of fatalities, 2013, recorded 29 accidents.

In Nigeria, 2016 was adjudged a very wonderful year for Nigeria’s aviation industry for not recording any air crash. Although accidents do happen even when the right things are done, but last year was so good for the nation in terms of aviation safety.

The NTSB boss said the essence of his visit was to train AIB staff, adding that he had also met with the staff, discussed and shared ideas. He commended the AIB for its robust accident investigation programmes’ compared to other investigation agencies in Africa, adding that NTSB had invited AIB to teach accident investigation at different times in the past.

Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, an aircraft engineer told this newspaper that 22 staff of the AIB would be travelling to the United States to receive On the Job Training (OJT) at the National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB) on air crash investigation.

Olateru, who recalled that when he took over as AIB Commissioner, ‘staff of the agency had not been trained for a long time because of paucity of funds’, added that he immediately swung into action by initiating a meeting with the NTSB and other international organisations to develop human capacity in the agency.

“This is the fall out of the meeting I had with the NTSB in the United States of America, his counterparts from ICAO and others. Right now in this workshop, we had been trained on strategy and others,” he said. He said the essence of the workshop, which is also targeted at the Banjul Accord Group and the West Africa sub-region personnel, was not only for training but also to provide opportunity to discuss with the staff and share ideas.

Olateru also said that the meeting had assisted the bureau in clarifying so many issues as they concern accident investigation. He revealed that the NTSB in its existence for over 50 years had carried out 145,000 accident investigations, adding that he has spent many years around Africa, organizing workshops.

Olateru disclosed that Jones, who has over 40 years of experience in accident investigation, has investigated over 1, 000 accidents, adding, “this is why he brings his wealth of experience to us to exchange ideas in Nigeria. “His experience has helped us in clarifying grey areas in investigation.”

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