Sunday, February 26, 2012

Negligence killed Sultan, others in plane crashes – Report

Pilots errors resulting from flight rustiness, negligence on the part of regulatory agency were some of the major reasons for the series of air clashes witnessed in Nigeria between 2005 and 2006.  This is contained in the Report made available by the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

The report disclosed that human errors and a lack of proper safety regulation were responsible for the three deadly plane crashes Nigeria recorded between 2005 and 2006 which claimed 380 aboard the aircraft including the late Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Abubakar Maciddo on October 29 2006.

The document obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act in the US said the Aviation Development Company (ADC) plane which left Abuja for Sokoto with the Sultan and 95 others on board crash landed 76 seconds after going airborne was caused by the ‘pilot’s incorrect action’.

It said “Just before the crash, alarms began sounding in the cockpit and the pilots’ incorrect actions stalled the plane. Although bad weather may have created the situation, which the pilots reacted to, they reacted inappropriately.”

Furthermore the AP report disclosed that “Even more disturbing for investigators were the airline’s operation manual for pilots and cockpit staff, which “did not contain any information on adverse weather condition as that section was blank. The manual was duly approved by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority despite containing the blank section.

The deficiency in the operation manual would probably make it difficult for pilots to take appropriate decision on when to go or not to go in an adverse weather condition,” the report said.

The FAA document, which the Nigeria federal government has refuse to release its own version since the 2005 incident also indicates that the records show that the captain of the Bellview airlines that crashed on the Oct. 22, 2005 killing 177 people, including a U.S. citizen has been out of operations for 14 years and has sustain a gunshot to his head without any medical record of his treatment.

“The plane’s captain, a 49-year-old former pilot, had been hired by Bellview after he had been working at a dairy for about 14 years, the summary read. The pilot also had been “shot in the head during a robbery attempt” during that break from flying, the report said.”Interestingly, the Nigerian … medical records do not contain any medical or hospitalization history of this event,”

Again it reported that the Dec. 10, 2005 crash of a Sosoliso Airlines flight full of schoolchildren from Abuja to Port Harcourt, which killed 107 people, appears to have involved both pilot error and weather.

“The pilot was reportedly racing a thunderstorm nearing the airport, the FAA memo reads. The inclement weather also forced the pilot to make an instrument landing — meaning that visibility had been reduced to the point the pilot needed to rely on instruments to make his landing, the report read.”

However, Harold Demuren, Director General of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority, was quoted as saying that officials of the agency have worked to ensure safety regulations were followed.”Nigeria had a really woeful accident record and those were the results,” Demuren said. “However, you must add to it that things have improved tremendously since then.”

He said. Nigeria has not witness major mishap since the new NCAA was put in place under Demuren by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

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