Akin Olateru- Commissioner/CEO, Accident Investigation Bureau
Engr. Akin Olateru, Commissioner/CEO, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), is a multi-talented, aviation industry professional with vast airline and air transport management expertise. He has more than 30 years of versatile work exposure in hands-on operational, management and top executive levels that crisscrosses the aviation industries in Europe and Nigeria.
He has gone through the core aviation units of aircraft engineering maintenance, ground handling as well as passenger and cargo transport operations. The all-round exposure is in pursuit of his desire to improve the safety and convenience of air travels for the flying public.
He is licensed as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the USA and has worked with a number of reputed airlines in Europe, including KLM, Martin Air in Holland, British Aerospace Engineering and British Midland Airways.
A holder of M.Sc. degree in Air Transport Management from City University, London, Olateru is specialized in in-depth research and simulations into accident investigations at postgraduate level. He was appointed to head AIB in January 2017 and since then, the bureau has come alive to its responsibilities.
He began his job at the bureau by first putting the organization’s operating condition to a rigorous analytical test. He established what were the critical issues, challenges as well as opportunities and developed strategies for moving it forward. In this way, he was able to innovate and maximize available resources while pressing for more.
The record shows that AIB has done more work within the short space of time than accomplished since its inception in 2007. With a new drive from the new leadership, several outstanding accident/incident reports have been turned in. Olateru has issued a total of 27 final reports in about two years – which represent close to 59 percent of AIB’s 46 final reports released over its 12 years of existence.
Safety considerations have got a facelift under his regime and proactive recommendations have been given minute attention. The reports issued contain as much as 97 safety recommendations or over 54 percent of the 178 recommendations the bureau has issued since its inception.
Capt. Muhtar Usman, director general, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA] acknowledged recently that AIB’s new recommendations have assisted his agency in improving its processes, developing new procedures and amending existing ones. He attested that the recommendations have led to the amendment of regulatory requirements and overall strengthening of NCAA’s safety oversight obligations.
The quickening force that Olateru has injected into the bureau pivots on enhanced human capacity development and improvement of facilities. He has given investigators up to date trainings in accident investigation from reputable institutions. Part of his plan for the bureau is to set up its own training school.
Several supporting facilities have been reactivated and some upgraded – which has improved AIB’s operating capacity. Major specific facility improvements include the bureau’s flight safety laboratory – which has been equipped and its software upgraded to the latest technology available in the industry.
These developments now permit simulation of animations based on data from flight data recorders [FDR] and cockpit voice recorder [CVR]. Consequently, AIB has now been accredited for FDR/CVR replay and analysis by the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI).
The aviation industry requires a lot of collaboration and consultations to chart the most beneficial course and maximize safety. In this regard, Olateru has worked out collaborative agreements with several countries and institutions, including Republic of Benin, US National Transportation Safety Board, Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau and the safety bureau in France.
His goal is to provide excellent services for which development and adherence to high quality standards is the key. He has reviewed the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2016 to keep the Bureau’s standards up to date. It is to him a duty his organization owes to the world to ensure that the standards are maintained and constantly updated.
Olateru still plans to invest much in training both for staff and first responders to accidents. He has engaged Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and Cranfield University, UK for running accident investigation courses for his staff. He is bringing in Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Nigeria Police Force and other first responders in the training programme, who will help to preserve evidences at air crash sites.
With his inward and outward training focus, Olateru is seen to be tackling the challenges in Nigeria’s aviation sector from both head and tail. He notes that an air crash site in Nigeria is a looting site and is responding to that problem in order to preserve evidences for investigation.
With his hand of fellowship to the police and men of FRSC through training, he expects that these first responders would get to know what an aircraft black box looks like. The boxes, he said, are very critical for his bureau’s investigation and he is taking every step needed to protect them in the event of air mishaps. The Top 10 Magazine has named Akin Olateru one of the top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019.