By Sade Williams
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has said seven countries in the sub-region would benefit from the multi-million Safety Laboratory Equipment installed for Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in Abuja.
Mr. Caj Frostel from ICAO who is also the Commissioner for Banjul Accord Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), said that the revived equipment would go a long way in boosting safety not only in the sub-region but Africa as a whole.
Some of the BAGAIA member states that would make use of the facility according to Frostel are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone.
Speaking with aviation correspondents in Lagos over the weekend, Frostel said that apart from the seven countries, other countries on the continent could also make use of the facility, which he described as world class equipment.
He said: “Much of what we did during the week was that we needed to establish that the equipment works. We have a BAGAIA interest that the AIB facility in Abuja becomes the centre of excellence in reading out flight recorders for all the seven countries. With BAGAIA we have ambition to expand to cover the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries and even Central and Southern Africa.
“There is no other flight recorder read out facility as you have in Abuja. These are potentially internationally customers that we hope to bring in. In the future, we will arrange familiarisation training on how these equipment are used in other countries.
“The Commissioner of AIB, Engr. Akin Olateru has foresight and initiative. He recently took over AIB and he quickly thought that the Abuja facility should get going. He has the energy and capacity to make it happen.”
Also commenting on the equipment, Mr. Michael Toft, a director in the accident investigation agency in Singapore who said he was in the country on the invitation of ICAO stated that the equipment was now in the right shape to download and analyse information from black boxes in case of an accident.
He explained that the same equipment is used in Singapore for data analysis, assuring that AIB’s engineers had been trained on how to handle the equipment for optimal usage.
“When I got here, I discovered that there were lots of commonality in equipment hardware and software. So, the first task in hand was to make an assessment of the laboratory, it was running fine with a nice accommodation. It has a good number of equipment and can read a large number of common flight recorder types that are installed on aircraft.
“The laboratory capability is equal if not better than Singapore. In terms of training, everything was nicely arranged and I completed my work quickly. I trained their investigators on how to manage the equipment, how to read out the data and how to decide the data.
“What is the software doing in the background and how you get result? It was successful. The personnel identified to manage the laboratory were very interested in knowing. They asked a lot of questions. I am happy I was given the opportunity to participate,” he said.