L-R: Capt Alkali, Director Airspace Safety, representative of Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, Engr Akin Olateru, Commissioner/CE, AIB-N, and Capt Musa Nuhu, Director General, NCAA
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has been charged to devise effective policies and regulations to compel Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, to either severally or collectively develop a Family Assistance Plans as part of their emergency procedures.
Also, the regulatory authority, NCAA, was further charged by the investigator to ensure that such emergency assistance programs are supervised, exercised and audited appropriately.
Engr Akin Olateru, Commissioner/Chief Executive, Accident Investigation Bureau-Nigeria, AIB-N, made the recommendation during the 2022 commemoration of the victims of air crashes, their families and loved ones.
He said the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s, ICAO’s, Policy and Manual on the Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families is contained in Doc 9998 and Doc 9973, respectively. He added that the detailed information on ICAO’s Family Assistance policies and guidelines are also available online.
The solemn memorial was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja and had in attendance the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, ably represented by Capt Alkali, Director of Airspace Safety, Ministry of Aviation, Capt Musa Nuhu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and representative of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, ASRTI, Group Capt Bola Onitiju, rtd, and a representative of the victims of air accidents, Mr Eric Bricks, among others.
Engr Olateru expressed his personal conviction that irrespective of the scale of an accident, the victims and their families should receive appropriate and timely assistance.
He elucidated that such assistance programs in support of aircraft accident victims and their families, will require cooperative planning and response by the air operator, State of Occurrence, non-governmental organizations, and specialized commercial companies.
Akin Olateru said the synergy between the regulator, NCAA and the investigator, AIB, was responsible for the over six years of safety in the nation’s airspace.
He noted that the recently passed act of the National Assembly, NASS, establishing the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, NSIB, couldn’t have come at a better time as the extant legislation did not expressly empower the bureau to completely fulfil her mandate in relation to Family Assistance.
The AIB-N helmsman however noted that by the new NSIB act, the bureau will stand up squarely on the task of accident victims assistance and that of their family members and loved ones.
Engr Olateru enthused thus, “one major significance of this Bill is the legal framework it provides for AIB-N to execute a more robust and effective Family Assistance program”.
He said when the new act gets presidential assent, the Family Assistance Unit at NSIB will provide victims, and their families the following comforting services:
• emergency response to the accident;
• information about the occurrence;
• coordination of travel to and lodging at a family assistance centre, as well as assistance to those not travelling;
• coordination of a visit to the accident site (where access is possible);
• information about the location and status of the victims, and the recovery, identification and disposition of remains;
• information regarding the recovery, management and return of personal effects;
• social, emotional and psychological support; and
• information about the progress of the subsequent investigation, and its objective.