Home Accidents& Investigation AIB acquires 2 drones, trains 20 staff, awaits approvals, licenses….

AIB acquires 2 drones, trains 20 staff, awaits approvals, licenses….

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Investigation of aircraft accidents in the country as received a boost with the acquisition of two drones by the Accident Investigation Bureau AIB.

The drones are to be deployed to crash sites to ensure vital materials at the site are adequately captured for seamless investigation.

Speaking at the Airport Business Summit in Lagos on what informed the drone acquisition, AIB commissioner, Mr. Akin Olateru said, “You have to constantly be innovative as an organization you can’t sit back and you have to move with world so that is what informed AIB in making investment in drones”.

Olateru emphasized that, for an organization like theirs to be successful, it had to move with world in technology, “because there is no serious accident investigation body in the world today that doesn’t use drones, launch drone at the crash site and so there is so may benefits”.

He explained that, they were yet to get the necessary approvals and licenses to deploy the drone and plans to have one each par location.

“We two for now, we have gotten it, we need to get all the approvals and the licenses and once that is done our plan is to one drone par location, one to be in Enugu, one to be Abuja, one to be in Kano and one to be in Lagos that’s our plan”.

Olateru noted that for effective use of this technology, it had locally trained 20 of its staff by experts brought in on how to operate drones.

On how much the drones were bought, he said, “I don’t have the figure, it is not just about buying, it is a technology that doesn’t exist in Nigeria we put it on what is called a programme as well that is to support us at least in the next three or four years, so any part we need will be sent to us for free”.He added, “The maintenance was embedded into the purchase as well, so I can’t really give you the figures for now”.

During a paper presentation at the ABSE with the theme: ‘Drone Essence in Accident Investigation’, the AIB Commissioner listed the challenges in the drone use by the AIB in Nigeria to include;

“The drone Regulations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is at work-in progress level, which rarely separate between commercial drone operators and non-commercial/ recreational operators. 

“The implication is that a government agency like the AIB cannot operate its drones at accident sites in close proximity (5 miles) to the airport areas, which are tagged as NO-FLY-ZONE unless cleared on case-by-case basis by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the NCAA”. 

He added, “Obtaining the needed clearances upon occurrence of an accident would take longer than desired time and keeping in mind that most aviation accidents occur around the airport area, this limitation will hamper our ability to deploy the drones as soon as we arrive at the accident sites in the restricted zones, since the drones are programmed not to operate within the zone unless unlock codes are obtained. Our request to ONSA for permanent unlock authorization did not receive favorable response”.

“The need to maintain currency requirements by providing the necessary training to the pilots”.

“As the drone and camera technologies develop rapidly, the need for constantly upgrading the drones and the software components cannot be overemphasized”.

“They do not which do not come cheap considering that you require high speed processing computers, large memory and storage to render the hundreds of images taken in a single operation”. 

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