A combined team of officials from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Singapore has arrived in Nigeria to assist the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to evaluate its Flight Safety Laboratory aimed at preventing air crashes and help in accident investigation.
This was disclosed in Lagos by the Commissioner of AIB, Akin Olateru, who said the team was led by Mr. Caj Frostel from ICAO, and that one of the teamâ€™s objectives was to ensure that the facility meets international standards.
Speaking with journalists at the bureauâ€™s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, at the weekend, Olateru said he was happy about the teamâ€™s visit and explained that it was such projects like the safety laboratory that made it imperative that the organisation needed more funding and hence the quest for five per cent of passenger service charge (PSC), which has been approved by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
He noted that the laboratory was cost intensive like other projects aimed at pre-empting and preventing accidents and frowned at the criticism that trailed the approval of five per cent of the PSC to the agency by the ministry from a section of the industry, saying several AIB projects were stalled because of paucity of funds.
Olateru said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in accordance with the Civil Aviation Act 2006 gets 58 per cent; the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) earns 23 per cent; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) gets seven per cent while the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) earns nine per cent of the total sum.
He explained further that among the agencies in the sector, only FAAN earned the PSC 100 per cent, adding that the same agency still collects charges for adverts, parking and landing of aircraft, land and tolls on vehicles coming in and exiting the airports across the country.
The commissioner remarked that paucity of funds had stalled the release of the over 35 accident investigation reports, due to non-training of accident investigators since 2013, stressing that the agency needed to develop human capacities in order to compete with others.
â€œAnybody that says it is not fair for us to get a part of the PSC is wicked because who owns the two agencies? Itâ€™s the federal government. We all share the TSC, and FAAN doesnâ€™t share its PSC with anybody and the government in its wisdom says â€˜FAAN, please give AIB five per cent.â€™ I donâ€™t think that is too much. It is within the power of the Minister to do that.
â€œBut, one thing that is critical to us is that we have to work on our budget on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) which is the issue of accident investigation and training.â€
These are critical. We need to build our capacities in accident investigation; there are certain things we need to improve upon, there are processes that we need to review, there is public sentitisation that we need to do.
â€œAll these things cost money, and this is what we have managed to put into the IGR for 2017. We expect some reasonable money from the PSC to support us to deliver on some of our mandates. We still have to sit with FAAN to see how much this money is and what the five per cent translate to,â€ Olateru said.