[Nigeria Report] Expert group: ‘Dana Air pilot acted unprofessionally’

Site of the Plane crash in Lagos Nigeria (photo: Nigerian tribune)

Dana Air Line

WITH the release of the preliminary report on the cause of the Dana Air crash at Iju/Ishaga, Lagos, all concerend people including the Concerned Aviation Professionals (CAP), Captain Tito Omaghomi said Tuesday (Aug. 7) that the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft acted unprofessionally.

Nigerian Tribune reported that Omaghomi, a former pilot with the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL), made this assertion while speaking to newsmen on issues in the aviation sector. He said the profile of the pilot of the crashed plane should be traced to know how he got 120 hours of flight time between the time he was employed and when the plane crashed on June 3, 2012.

“He was employed by Dana Air on March 14, 2012. He began flying operations for the company in late May 2012 and had since accrued over 120 hours of flight time,” Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) had said.

Comparing it with the pilot hour of what obtained in NAL, Omaghomi said that for a pilot to become a captain in NAL, he must have flown 6,000 hours.

He argued that from the little released by the AIB, it was clear that both the captain and the first officer acted unprofessionally by not using the normal check list and not telling Nigerians when they lost the first engine.

He said, “The pilot did not use the check list. They acted unprofessionally. It was like a cowboy operation.”

While noting that the greatest emergency that could happen was the loss of cabin pressure, the former NAL pilot said the handling of the Dana Air plane crash was the most unprofessional  that he had ever known, adding that if the rescue operation was handled properly, there was a likelihood that lives could have been saved.

AIB, he said, had nothing to hide as far as the Dana Air plane crash was concerned, stating that some of the facts at the site of the crash were tampered with by the crowd that rushed to the site after the accident, attributing the development to ignorance.

According to him, “emergency does not kill. It is the action or inaction that kills.”

On the report released by the Group Captain John Obakpolor-led nine-man committee, the former NAL captain said that there was credibility issue with some of the members.

According to him, when he heard about the committee and some of the members, he advised Group Captain Obakpolor and Captain Mfon Udom to resign because they did not have the moral justification to be in the committee but they did not listen.

He explained that Obakpolor was a contract staff with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) while Udom was a management staff of the Airline Development Company (ADC), an airline that could not pay compensation when its aircraft crashed in 2006.

Meanwhile, a witness in the ongoing coroner inquest into the cause of the Dana Air crash,  Kayode Ajiboye, on Tuesday, while giving testimony stated that it was another aircraft belonging to Dana Airline that once had hydraulic pressure problem.

Ajiboye, who is the General Manager of Air Worthiness, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), gave this information while testifying before Magistrate Alexander Oyetade Komolafe at the resumed hearing of the inquest at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

While answering questions from lawyers at the inquest, he explained that the incident happened before the June 3, 2012 crash of Dana aircraft involving the plane with registration number 5N-RAM, explaining that it was the aircraft with registration number 5N-SRI that had hydraulic problem.

According to him, contrary to the views in some quarters, the aircraft that crashed was not the one that lost hydraulic pressure while air-borne, explaining that the aircraft with registration number 5N-SRI  was on return trip to Lagos from Uyo when it lost hydraulic pressure in the air on May 10, 2012.

He said in the testimony that due to this problem, the plane had to be quickly cleared ahead of others, to make emergency landing on arrival in Lagos, adding that some of the passengers in the plane later called the Consumer Protection Department of NCAA to complain about the state of the aircraft, including the failed air conditioner.

Ajiboye explained further that the plane was, however, taken for repairs at My-Technic Company Limited, Turkey, an aircraft maintenance and servicing company. He added that the Dana Air plane that crashed on June 3, 2012 was serviced and that a flight check was carried out on it on June 2, 2012.

It was also his testimony that the plane did not show any sign of problems during the flight check, adding that this was why it was scheduled for flights for the following day.

Another witness, Mr Alistair Morrison, who is the Managing Director of SO Aviation Fuel Limited, a subsidiary of Sahara Group of Companies, informed the coroner that his company supplied 4,000 litres of aviation fuel to Dana Airline between 5.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. on June 2, 2012 in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Tribune reported that more than two months after the crash of the ill-fated Dana Air plane in Iju/Ishaga area of Lagos State on June 3, the state government will, commence Tuesday (Aug.2) the release of the remains of 107 victims of the crash at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.

This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant on Legal Matters to the governor, Mr Akingbolahan Adeniran, on Wednesday, after a meeting with the next of kin and relatives of the victims of the crashed plane at the Medical Research Centre of LASUTH.

Adeniran further said that a schedule for the release of the bodies was decided on consensus, explaining that it would be in alphabetical order.

“The schedule for the release of the bodies to the next of kin has been done in alphabetical order and will start at 9.00 a.m on the specified dates,” he said, while asking all affected families to contact the funeral director’s office.

According to him, the issuance of death certificates to the next of kin of the victims would begin on Monday, August 13, to allow for claims and objection by relations of the victims.

“The next of kin or an adult duly authorized by the next of kin may collect the death certificate from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of LASUTH,” he said.

He also put the figure of bodies already released at 25, adding that 19 more bodies still needed to go through some processes for proper identification.

The governor’s aide said that the option available for relatives who fell within the category was either a mass burial or further DNA test, which might take more time to carry out, adding that the families of the remaining 19 victims would be invited soon for a meeting with Professor John Obafunwa and government representatives.

Meanwhile, the management of Dana Air has pledged assistance to families of the crash victims.

According to the management, “Dana Air continues to offer special counseling and therapy sessions for affected families who wish to avail this service. Private Sessions can be arranged, and this is just a phone call away.”

It added that it remained in contact with all the families and relatives through the crisis management centers which had been established in Lagos and Abuja.

Uwalaka Temple U.B Intern Reporter news@theasian.asia

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