A team of accident investigators from Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has left Lagos for São Tomé and Principe to investigate the recent crash of an A-74 aircraft, which occurred on the West African Island.
The Head of the AIB Public Affairs, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, made this known in a statement issued to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday.
Oketunbi explained that the invitation to Nigeria’s AIB came from São Tomé and Principe through the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), which is an arm of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
According to him, all costs and expense associated with the said investigation would be borne 100 per cent by the government of São Tomé and Principe.
He said the invitation was “first of its kind” in AIB’s history and coming on the heels of the rising performance profile of the bureau.
The spokesman added that it complemented AIB’s determination to be a leader in accident investigation across the Sub Saharan region.
“The An-74 was performing its takeoff run in favourable weather on runway 29 at Sao Tome when at some point one or multiple birds collided with the aircraft.
“The Russian aircraft, whilst doing an aborted take-off reportedly ran beyond the end of the runway where it fell down an embankment and was damaged beyond repair.
“Although the aircraft was badly damaged, all the six crew members survived with injuries.
”The accident aircraft was on a return flight to Europe after it arrived at Sao Tome from Stavanger (Norway), Luxemburg and Ghardaia (Algeria).
“The only runway at Sao Tome is 2,160 meters (7,087 ft) in length and has only limited overrun capabilities,” Oketunbi said.
He said the invitation by São Tomé and Principe through BAGAIA, attested to AIB’s capabilities and competency in terms of human and infrastructural resource readiness.
“Nigeria is the only country with an autonomous and functioning aviation accident investigation agency in West Africa and the most endowed in terms of facilities.
“The agency has a Flight Safety Laboratory for the download and analysis of information from flight recorders and materials laboratory, both situated in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital,” he said.
Oketunbi quoted the AIB’s Commissioner Mr Akin Olateru, as saying that: ”We are very mindful of BAGAIA’s expectation of us, and that from individual African countries alike; we cannot afford to let them down.”