By DAYO JOHNSON &, LAWANI MIKAIRU
ANOTHER plane crash was, yesterday, averted in Kaduna as IRS Airline plane with 89 passengers on board was assisted to land in Kaduna after it developed mechanical problems. The aircraft was said to have had hydraulic problem and on landing at the airport had to discharge its passengers on the runway instead of taxiing to the parking lot.
Speaking on the incident, Managing Director of IRS, Mr. Yemi Dada said, the F100 plane with registration 5N-HIR, left Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos for Kaduna with 89 passengers on board and “on final approach to Kaduna today (yesterday), our cockpit crew got a low hydraulic in System One warning and decided to take precautionary measures to ask for ground confirmation that all gears were down and locked. The aircraft landed normally after the control tower had confirmed that the gears were all down normally. The crew proceeded to land but followed procedure to disembark on the runway and not taxi in accordance with the procedure.
“All passengers disembarked normally and the aircraft was towed to ramp. The maintenance crew are inspecting to confirm the issue that caused the warning to the crew. Updates will follow shortly.”
This incident came few days after Associated Airlines plane conveying the body of the former governor of Ondo State, Chief Segun Agagu and 20 others crashed 31 seconds after take-off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, Lagos runway killing 15 of the 20 people.
Associated Airline plane was faulty
The Accident Investigation & Prevention Bureau, AIPB, in its preliminary report of the accident released in Abuja, weekend, said investigations revealed that the aircraft was already faulty before the cockpit crew decided to embark on the journey. According to the report, the pilot, Capt. Abdulraham Yakubu, insisted that the crew must continue with the journey even when the co-pilot suggested that the flight should be aborted. The aircraft crashed exactly 31 seconds after take off from the runway.
Meanwhile, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, whose son, Deji, was one of the 15 persons who died in the Associated Airlines plane crash said, weekend, that the pilot was on a suicide mission and that the crash was avoidable.
Falae who spoke in Akure while receiving some leaders of the South South Peoples Assembly who paid a condolence visit to him, argued that the plane crash was strange to a sane mind going by the several unheeded warnings by the crew members about the condition of the plane.
He wondered why the crew members ignored several warnings as regards the condition of the plane but embarked on a suicide mission.
Falae said, “It was a suicide mission. If they had heeded the warnings all these people would not have died. The crash was avoidable. The genesis of the whole accident was the lack of necessary infrastructure in the country because the remains of Dr Agagu needed not to be flown at all if the road is good. In Nigeria, you cannot travel by road and the air is not safe again, the situation is a serious one. Even if the aircraft is alright, what do you say of the mind of the pilot? This crash was totally avoidable.”
Earlier, the South-South Peoples Assembly had said the preliminary report showed that the crash was avoidable and advocated periodic stress and psychiatric tests for pilots flying in Nigeria. Leading the delegation of the Assembly, Brigadier S.E Oviawe, said the preliminary report actually showed that the pilot embarked on suicide mission.
Oviawe presented the condolence letter signed by the Acting Chairman of the Assembly, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga and the Secretary, Chief Ayakeme Whisky.
He noted “if the pilot had been in the right frame of mind, he ought to have listened to the advice of the co-pilot even after he had been warned by the device in the aircraft. For the pilot to have rejected the warning of the co-pilot and the aircraft equipment itself showed that something was wrong.”
They asked the Afenifere leader to “take solace in God and be comforted by those good things that people have been saying about his late son, who had lived for the principle of service for which the family was noted. We feel your pains and grieve with you for this irreparable loss. Going by myriads of problems confronting the country, there is need for all to sit down and look at the affairs of this country in order to find lasting solution to those problems.
AIB preliminary report is an open report
Aviation experts, yesterday, in their assessment of last Friday’s preliminary report released by the AIPB, on the crashed Embraer 120 aircraft belonging to Associated Aviation Services Limited said the report was open as some salient issues like the certificate of Air worthiness of the plane was not addressed.
Speaking on phone with aviation correspondents from London, UK, the immediate past Rector of the NigerianCollege of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Zaria, Capt. Adebayo Araba, said the report did not indict any agency in the sector. He, however, noted that AIPB did not tell the public some salient points concerning the status of the aircraft.
According to Araba, AIPB in its preliminary report was silent on the last time the plane flew before it crashed on October 3, 2013. He also queried the certificate of airworthiness of the aircraft, stressing that the public would like to know the exact period this was last issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.
Araba said, “There are some salient points AIPB has not told the public. Although, the report was open and did not indict anybody, but their report did not tell us the status of the aircraft; when was the last time it flew before the crash? When was the last time the certificate of airworthiness was issued and the one that expired, when did it expire?
“Also, when was the last time the maintenance of the aircraft was done by the airline operator and where was it done? Were the crew current on the plane? When was the last recurrent training the crew had on the plane? AIPB as an investigator in the sector should put their searchlight in these areas and tell us more about these. These are salient points that will tell the public about the true picture of the plane.”
Also, a serving flight engineer who craved anonymity said the report did not tell the public if the flight pilot had a current licence considering the kind of decision he took, even when the first officer was calling for caution. He said, “I doubt if the late pilot had a valid flight licence. When last did he go for training and retraining? Did Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority revalidate his licence, and if yes, who did and when? I think the report, though preliminary is still open. There are still issues to be addressed and questions answered. There is the need to make preliminary report detail so that the picture will be clearer from the begin.”
AIB commences investigation
Meantime, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, said, yesterday, that Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau has commenced investigation into the IRS Airline plane that had mechanical fault and had to be guided to land and discharge its passengers on the runway.
In a statement, yesterday, night, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu , Director-General, NCAA said “An aircraft F-100 with Reg no 5N-HIR , operated by IRS Airline landed safely, following a hydraulic leakage on the runway of Kaduna airport today, October 13, 2013. NCAA directed the airline to tow the aircraft to the apron and Accident Investigation & Prevention Bureau, AIPB has commenced investigation into the incident. ”