By Soni Daniel
ABUJA — Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, yesterday, faulted claims by Senator Smart Adeyemi that the Associated Airlines aircraft that crashed in Lagos on October 3 killing 15 persons on board was under repairs and was on test run before it embarked on the flight and crashed.
Senator Adeyemi, had on Tuesday while contributing to the debate in the Senate on the crash said from investigations he conducted, the ill-fated aircraft was under repairs and was supposed to carry only engineers for the flight test and not passengers.
Faulting Adeyemi’s claim yesterday, Mr Yakubu Dati, who is the spokesman for the NCAA and other regulatory agencies in the aviation sector said “the regulatory agency had already issued a statement after the crash which answered Adeyemi’s claim”.
According to him, “the airline, Associated Aviation Limited holds a subsisting Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and currently conducts only charter operations.
“The aircraft had a current Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) till October 22nd, 2013. Our records also show that the airline has an insurance policy valid until June 14, 2014.
“Before the ill-fated flight, the airline last operated the EMB 120ER 5N-BJY aircraft on a charter flight on August 22, 2013.
“The aircraft was certified fit for flight by one of the airline’s aircraft maintenance engineers prior to departure, who was also on board the ill-fated flight”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah who also reacted to Senator Smart Adeyemi’s claim pleaded with Nigerians to wait for the result of investigations into the cause of the crash of the Associate Airlines.
The minister, who spoke through her Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, said there was no need to speculate on the cause of the airline crash, since the relevant agencies in the aviation sector had already swung into action.
Obi said, “In aviation, we work with facts and figures and not speculation. We respect the views expressed by Distinguished Senator Adeyemi but we plead with Nigerians to wait for the report of the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau, AIPB, which had since swung into action following the sad incident.
“The issues discussed by the Senator is already in the public domain and cannot be swept away and we must note that what happened affected all Nigerians. At the end of the day, all the issues will definitely be determined by the AIPB report,” Obi said.
Meantime, the Senate has summoned the Minister of Aviation, Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency to appear before it on an undisclosed date and brief senators on the resurgence of crashes within the sector.
The Senate in a resolution on the crash condemned the resurgence of plane crashes in Nigeria and the inability of relevant agencies to unearth the causes of the incidents. The Senate therefore mandated its committee on aviation immediately investigate the causes of the crash and ascertain the level of compliance by the relevant agencies.
It also mandated the committee to investigate and identify lapses in the operation of laws and regulations guiding the aviation industry by the ministry and all its agencies with a view to correcting and streamlining same in order to avert any further untoward disasters.
The resolution to summon the Aviation Minister and Chief Executives of the aviation Parastatals was as a result of the motion sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodimma representing Imo West on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party.
Senator Uzodimma had chronicled the number of air disasters in the country that had claimed the lives of Nigerians as a result of negligence by those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the air space was save.
According to him, Allied Airlines (Cargo Aircraft) crashed on June 2, 2012 in Accra, Ghana killing about 10 people on the ground; Dana crash of June 3 last year claimed the lives of 153 people on board while the Nigeria Police Helicopters that crashed on March 23rd last year killed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG John Haruna and three other officers on board.
He also said that the Odenegene Air services (OAS Helicopter) crashed on a flight to Akure in 2012 killing all on board and the Augusta 109 Helicopter that crashed in Bayelsa state killing the former National Security Adviser, NSA, General Patrick Azazi, the Kaduna State Governor Sir Patrick Yakowa, two naval pilots and two aides to the governor.
The senate said it was worried that the resurgence of plane crashes in the country since 2011 was suggestive of a deep seated system problem that must be unraveled and resolved in order to avert further and unnecessary loss of lives.
The Deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary commended members for the passion expressed while contributing to the motion, stressing that it was a pity that the country had lost many lives as a result of air mishaps and that every live must count.
Ekweremadu said that one of the problems in the aviation sector was the issue of safety standard and that the problem of the sector was from those saddled with the responsibility to enforce standards, adding that the senate would make sure that every regulation was enforced.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Ali Ndome, PDP, Borno South said going by the contributions of the senators what they were doing was lamentation and that they were not elected to lament, adding that resolutions taken by the senate were not implemented.
He said, “last time we said that Dana operations should be withdrawn, they said no only last week they said Dana has been suspended. We should ensure compliance after motions have been passed.”