BY KENNETH EHIGIATOR
Aviation Attorney Group, AAG, led by British law firm, Irwin Mitchell, has charged the Federal Government to explain circumstances that led to the crash of Dana airline on June 3, 2012, saying explanations contained in the interim report on the accident were not convincing.
The group, made up of international aviation law experts, currently represents families of victims of the crash which occurred in a Lagos suburb, Iju Ishaga, while the MD-83 airliner was approacing the Murtala Muhammed Airport.
AAG, which spoke through its press officer, Rob Dixon, lamented that while the Nigerian authorities were yet to explain the cause of the accident, the airline had also not paid families of victims statutory compensation.
It alleged that Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, was yet to respond to series of correspondence sent to it on the issue.
Dixon said in a statement sent to Vanguard yesterday: “International aviation law experts representing the families of passengers killed in a Dana Air crash in Lagos on June 3 last year are now demanding that authorities in Nigeria provide answers over the incident and explain what is being done to improve flight safety in the country, following the first anniversary of the tragedy.
“More than 150 passengers including a British citizen, a family of six Americans, four Chinese, two Lebanese and a French woman were killed in the crash, along with six crew and 10 people on the ground.
“A preliminary report released around a month after the incident suggesting it was caused by a loss of power from the engines but it does not identify what caused this power loss nor does it disclose key evidence from the Cockpit Voice Recorder, which survived the crash.
“However, despite writing to the NCAA and requesting more information related to the flight, Irwin Mitchell’s team of experts have been repeatedly frustrated at their attempts to access vital detail over the events of the day”.
“They also remain concerned by the NCAA’s decision at the end of last year to re-certify Dana Air’s operating licence for commercial flights, meaning the airline was able to resume flights before the publication of a comprehensive accident report that identifies all the flight safety issues surrounding the crash. This situation with Dana’s re-certification raises concerns as to whether all necessary measures have been implemented to prevent a similar accident happening again.”
A member of the team, Jim Morris, a former RAF Boeing pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell, said: “The past year has been a distressing, difficult and frustrating time for all of the families we represent, who are still coming to terms with the losses they have suffered in the incident.
“However, the last 12 months has been made much more difficult by the continued silence and lack of information we have seen in relation to this truly terrible incident, which has ultimately prevented the families from understanding what went wrong and feeling reassured that the Nigerian authorities and aviation industry have taken all necessary steps to learn lessons and improve flight safety.
“It is time to know what happened and why, as well as what is being done to prevent it happening again. Enough surely now has to be enough – it is time that those affected got answers over this tragedy.”
“In accordance with the Chicago Convention, which provides the international standards and recommended practices for air accident investigations and reports, we are hopeful that the NCAA will publish a comprehensive interim or final accident report on or shortly after the 1st anniversary.
“This is tremendously important for the families if they are to gain any peace and the answers they truly deserve. The families are living with the consequences of this terrible tragedy which will be especially difficult to bear as they remember their loved ones, a year on from the tragedy. Our thoughts are with them.”
Dixon, in his response to a mail sent him by Vanguard yesterday, did not, however, disclose the number of families the team was representing.