FG moves to stop hoodlums from looting aircraft crash sites
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) says it has decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ((NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to prevent criminals from swarming over the wreckage of crashed aircraft and looting essential items.
The Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the federal agency, Mr. Akin Olatera, said this in Enugu yesterday during the South East/South South Regional Aviation Stakeholders Symposium.
According to him, looting of crash sites has been impeding investigations into civil air crashes in the country. He said the AIB’s scope of accident investigations would be expanded to include rail, marine and road accidents when the bill before the National Assembly had been passed into law.
Olatera, represented by the bureau’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, said vital components that could have helped in investigations were on several occasions carted away by unauthorised persons before the arrival of AIB officials at plane crash scenes.
He stressed that removing aircraft components such as the black box and flight data recorders from crash scenes affect investigations and undermine the safety of the people flying and those on the ground.
The AIB chief said: “Experiences over the years have shown us that sometimes, crowd invasion of crash sites has led to the process of vital crash components being taken away. There was a crash in 2005 or 2006 involving Belleview Airlines, where the flight recorders were taken away and were never found. They were very critical to the investigation.”
With security personnel cordoning off plane crash sites, Olatera believed that it would be difficult for hoodlums to steal major aircraft components and passengers’ belongings.
The agency said its collaboration with the police, army, FRSC and NSCDC would save the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) some money “in terms of funds it allocates to downloading its Flight Data Recorders, commonly known as Black Boxes abroad, following an air crash”.
Olatera added that the collaboration would help the agency to access crash sites faster and easily since the NAF has helicopters that can transport investigators.
According to him, the AIB has trained the police, soldiers, traffic officials and the NSCDC officers for the assignment in air disaster management.