NIGERIAN Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents of Benin Republic have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enable both countries partner in the area of accident investigation, capacity building and information sharing, to enhance standards of investigation.
The agreement in the MoU is in four parts — cooperation, capacity and human development, exchange of information and assistance
This is just as the AIB is set to carry out a review of its existing regulations, which seek to accommodate latest changes in the global aviation industry as part of findings by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) the last time the Bureau was audited.
The Investigators signed its MoU with Benin Republic on the sideline of the ongoing workshop on accident investigation for African countries organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), on Wednesday in Abuja.
Signing the MoU, AIB Commissioner, Mr Akin Olateru, said the two countries would partner in the area of accident investigation, capacity building and information sharing, to enhance standards and the said partnership would help the nations’ accident authorities fulfill their international obligations in accident investigation.
He said the two countries would assist each other in the event of an accident in any of the countries by combining their resources and expertise to conduct the investigation.
According to him, AIB will be signing another MoU with Sao Tome, Niger Republic and other countries within the next few months.
“All these today between Republic of Benin and Nigeria is to help us both to fulfill our obligations with regards to ICAO convention on accident investigation.
“The synergy will go a long way to enhance capacity of our investigators because they will be working with each other to investigate accidents in any of the countries.
“It is about capacity building at the end of the day;if you look at it because the more you practice the more you learn in accident investigation practices because there are no two same accidents and it takes years to fully train an accident investigator.
“This for us, is to enhance our capability and boost our expertise in terms of accident investigation and as at today, Nigeria is the leader in terms of accident investigation in Africa” he said.
Bongo Paul, Head of Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents, Benin Republic, said he was glad to have signed the MoU with Nigeria, adding that the negotiation for the partnership had been on for six months.
Paul said it was significant to have entered into the partnership with a next door neighbouring country in addition to the ones with European countries.
He said the idea was to enable Benin to fulfill its obligations in the area of accident investigation through capacity building.
On its announcement to review its regulations, Olateru in a recent chat said that the review exercise would take place before the end of the year arguing that some of the existing regulations of AIB had since become outdated and needed changes, which he said could not be accommodated with the current regulations in use.
He also pointed out that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), recently reviewed its Annex 18 to accommodate new developments in the industry, stressing that in order to remain relevant, an organisation like AIB would need to consistently look at its regulations.
He said: “AIB came to bear in 2007 via the Civil Aviation Act 2006; our regulation was designed to guide how you do things. That regulation is outdated, it has to be reviewed. Regulation basically is to guide the stakeholders and to let everybody know this is how reporting system is done.
“If you look at Annex 18, it has just been reviewed by ICAO. We need to bring our regulations to speed to capture those new areas because you have to constantly review how you do things for you to stay relevant, if not, you will become outdated. It is easier to review regulations than to review the Act. Act is forever.
“More so, the need to review our regulations was part of ICAO findings the last time it audited us. ICAO observed that there were lots of gaps in the current regulations, which had called for this review. As a responsible organisation, you have to constantly put your regulations, processes, systems and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to test to make sure there is still life and they are still going to work in accordance to your objectives. And, if you find any gaps, you need to review and make it alive.”
Recall that AIB had in February 2016 carried out a similar exercise in Lagos, which improved its activities and duties to the entire aviation industry especially as it concerns accident and incident investigations.