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Aviation Stakeholders Fret over Recent Aircraft Incidents across the Country - THISDAY

MAY 17, 2024

BY  Chinedu Eze

Aviation industry stakeholders have expressed deep concern over the many aircraft incidents in recent time, insisting that the development is aggravating their fears and compelling them to remember major air accidents that occurred in Nigeria in the past that claimed the lives of many Nigerians

They therefore called on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the federal government to take urgent action to stem the situation.

Since last year, Nigeria has recorded many air incidents involving aircraft overshooting the runway and even accident, where a single engine aircraft crashed on the street in Ikeja, Lagos but there were no fatalities.

Industry insiders say this is similar prologue that led to tragic crashes in early 2000s, peaking in 2005 and 2006, involving Sosoliso Airlines, ADC Airlines, Bellview Airlines

During this period, some accidents with fatalities come to mind, including Skypower Express Airways Bandeirante 110P1A that crashed on landing at Abuja airport, January 5, 2000, killing 17 person; the EAS Airlines BAC 1-11-500 that crashed on May 4, 2002, killing 76 out of 105 persons on board in Kano. It crashed on densely populated suburb, killing 72 persons on the ground, and bringing total casualties to 148.

On December 19, 2004, a Boring 727 aircraft operated by Chanchangi Airlines belly-landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos but there were no fatalities. On October 22, 2005, a Boeing 737-200 operated by Bellview Airlines which took off from Lagos on its way to Abuja, crashed at high speed, just a few minutes after take-off, killing all 117 persons on board.

Also, on December 10, 2005, a Port Harcourt bound flight 1145 from Abuja, operated by Sosoliso Airlines, crash landed at the airport, killing 109 passengers, including 60 students of Jesuit Loyola College, Abuja and on October 29, 2006, Aviation Development Corporation (ADC) Airlines operated Boeing 737 with 104 passengers on board crashed minutes after take-off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, killing 98 passengers with six survivors.

Industry insiders posited that before these major tragic accidents there were minor and major incidents that happened in between. They noted that since 2006 there were the missing Beechcraft 1500 that disappeared on its way to Bebi airstrip in March 2008, which was later found to have crashed in a dense forest in Cross River state with the three-member crew dead and also there was the tragic crash of Dana Air flight on June 3, 2012 that killed 153 people on board and six on the ground. Also, the Associated Aviation Flight 361, which crashed on take-off at the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on October 3, 2013, killing 16 of the 20 persons on board.

Since 2013 till date, there have not been major tragic accident that involved commercial airline on scheduled flight service, but there have been incidents that awake the fear that Nigeria may be heading to another major accident if NCAA does not take the right actions.

In November last year, Valujet operated Bombardier, CRJ-900 aircraft with registration 5N-BXR, skidded off the runway after landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport. There was serious incident that happened at the Samuel Ladoke Akintola Airport, Ibadan in Oyo State on November 3, 2023, which an aircraft not designated for charter service was involved in charter operation and it landed short of the runway in the night and crashed into the bush. Also, on August 2, 2023 a single engine, fixed wing, Jabiru aircraft with registration number 5NCCQ and three persons on board crash-landed into an old communication pole inward Ikeja Bus Stop on Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja Lagos. Before these two incidents there have been records of helicopter accidents that claimed lives. Industry operators attributed these accidents to growing poor oversight function of NCAA. Then there was another serious incident at the Ibadan Airport involved HS25B aircraft with Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF) with call sign, 5NAMM operated by Flint Aero. All these incidents preceded the skidding off runway of Dana Air flight and that of Xejet, which happened last week.

Reacting to these incidents, industry stakeholder and former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), agreed these could be precursor to a major accident. “Oh yes, I do because there have been similar currencies even after that safety recommendations were made and am not sure they all have been implemented. But where you think they have been implemented, were the corrections done by certified impementor approved by the NCAA? One major problem between the NCAA and FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) is the word ‘AUTHORITY’ in their nomenclature that makes FAAN perceive itself as a self regulatory authority.

“In the recent incident like in the past, is FAAN certified to do runway derubberisation or has it presented any qualified and NCAA certified agent  for the derubberiation? Did NCAA inspect the job and certified it okay for flights operations to use? When last did the NCAA itself conduct the periodic maintenance audit on the runway? I hope these questions would be effectively answered to clear both FAAN and NCAA. I forgot to mention that runways are good to be certified for flights operations just as aircraft too are certified before flights operations,” he said.

However, the Managing Director of Flight and Logistics Solutions Limited, Amos Akpan said the recent incidents at the nation’s airports do not translate to “harbinger of tragic accident that may come in future”.

“My position is that:we isolate each incident and take seriously the investigation and the reports. Make sure the recommendations from the investigation reports are implemented, then give feedback on the implementation to the industry. There must be an industry monitoring records of: What happened? What caused it? What are we doing to avoid reoccurrence? These must be documented like the law report in the Judiciary. Copies of these reports and recommendations should be originated by NCAA and deposited for reference purposes with the operators, Nigerian Safety Investigation Board  (NSIB), and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria (as academic and workplace reference materials).

“Incidents and accidents will happen where machines and humans interface. But there must be safety systems in place aimed at zero injuries or harm. Adherence to these safety systems reduces injury or harm to the bearest acceptable minimum. Operators and NCAA must rise up to these challenges by adherence to their own documented and approved operational specifications,” Akpan said.

He also advised that NCAA should not only inspect, correct, and, where necessary sanction airlines; but it must spread effective and noticeable oversight to include the following: handling companies, fuel companies, catering companies, FAAN, private or state owned airports, maintenance organizations, and airfreight companies.

“The system must be able to throw up non compliance and compromisers like the sore thumb for all to see. Most of the preventive and preemptive steps to take are documented in the civil aviation regulations. All concerned just need to practice what we have documented,” he said.

Speaking, the member of Airline Operators of Nigeria and the President of Topbrass Aviation Limited, Captain Roland Iyayi, said the major challenge the aviation sector has is the inability to keep data of past incidents and other activities in the industry.

“Assuming we kept data, things like these will continue to remind NCAA of what to do. If a trend is not good you correct it. Runway excursion at different airports could be an indication of poor training. Data give you a trend and help you to repair something before it becomes a crisis. I can see a trend and that can point at poor training. You can use data to draw conclusions,” he said.


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