Monday, December 24, 2012

Bayelsa crash: Pilot’s family accuses authorities of partiality

He was aged 32, got married on March 26th 2011 to his wife, Eniola and had his first daughter, Teniola barely nine months ago. He was the bread winner of his family and his parents are still alive. That is the sad story of Lt. David Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the ill-fated Navy helicopter that crashed on Saturday in Bayelsa state.

The family of Lt. Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the Navy helicopter which crashed on Saturday in Bayelsa State have expressed disappointment that authorities have only reckoned with the dignitaries that died on the flight. ”

 The co-pilot’s elder brother, Taiwo, said the government had not treated other victims as important as the two dignitaries – Gen. Andrew Azazi and Governor Patrick Yakowa – on board.

Taiwo, spoke with our correspondent on Tuesday, at the family’s 28, Akintoye Street, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos home.

The ambience was sombre, as relations and friends sat around Adeyemi’s father, Solomon, in the family’s sitting room.

Words were few. But some of the sympathizers intermittently offered prayers to break the silence.

The deceased’s brother said, “All lives are equal. At this point, the right thing to do is for government to treat all the victims with respect and give them the same recognition.

“But it seems as if only the dignitaries on board the helicopter died. Adeyemi is also important.

“Adeyemi and a senior colleague lost their lives also. They are equally precious to their families. It was their responsibility to transport the dignitaries even though their own lives were on the line.”

Another family member, an aunt of the deceased, broke down in tears. She expressed sadness that while the news about the crash was circulating, authorities only focused on Yakowa and Azazi.

“It’s like the people in government see our son and his colleague as unimportant. Is it only Azazi and Yakowa that died in that crash? Why can’t they sympathize with us as well? The incident happened and all they were talking about were the two government officials on board,” the aunt, who declined to give her name, stated.

Taiwo described his brother as a humble man, who loved his job since he was young.

He said he never believed his brother would die doing what he loved best:  flying.

Adeyemi was the fifth child of his parents’ seven children.

Taiwo said, “We called him ‘Yemi Olopa (policeman)’ because he always behaved like one. But when he got into the Nigerian Defence Academy, it was a dream come true for him.

“He loved what he did so much that he never expressed fear at any point in time about the nature of the job.”

Adeyemi graduated from the NDA in 2005 having studied Geography and trained as a pilot.

Taiwo said the last time he spoke with his brother was about 10 days before the crash.

Adeyemi, according to him, was very concerned about their father’s coming 80th birthday, which the family had scheduled for celebration in March 2013.

“Adeyemi insisted we should start planning for the birthday now. We discussed a lot of things, the hall to be used, the expenses and many other things. He said we would discuss it more when he comes home for Christmas,” Taiwo said.

Taiwo got the news about his brother’s death at 8pm on Saturday through one of his brothers.

“All we heard initially was that his helicopter crashed and we were praying at the time that it will turn out to be a hoax. We were hoping it would be a mistake because we thought Navy pilots only fly military personnel or the President and Vice-President,” he said.

Two of Adeyemi’s other siblings – Owolabi and Aderonke – have not come to terms with the fact that their brother was dead.

Owolabi explained that the last time Adeyemi called him, it was also to discuss their father’s coming birthday celebration.

He became suspicious when a friend of the deceased, who is close to the family, called him to request for his parents’ number.

“He called but did not say anything. He called my dad and mum and said he only wanted to find out how they were doing. He eventually called me again to break the news. I can’t believe I’m not going to see my brother again,” he said.

Aderonke, who was her brother’s “pet,” broke down in tears as she described the last time she spoke with him.

She said, “Anytime he was coming home, I would ask what he wanted to eat and he would say ‘you should know because you are my mum.’

“Few days before the incident, I asked if he was coming home for Christmas and he jokingly said ‘no’. I told him he dared not. He said he would come and I was looking forward to seeing him. I still wish all this noise about his death is just a rumor.


Microlight crash pilot did not have permit to fly in Ireland

The pilot of a microlight that suffered substantial damage after hitting an electric fence in West Cork on Apr 6 last did not have a permit to fly in Ireland.

The 51-year-old male, who hit the fence while landing at Enniskeane Airfield, 17km west of Bandon, had a permit to fly in Britain but did not have permission from the Irish Aviation Authority.

A report compiled by air accident investigators said while landing on the runway, the microlight’s main wheel “caught in an electrified wire fence leading to a heavy landing on the runway and damage to the aircraft”.

Photographs of the aircraft following the accident show that both the nose wheel and the right-hand main wheel had separated and there was also some damage to the engine cowling.

The pilot said he was familiar with the runway — a level grass strip about 400m long, located alongside the River Bandon — but that while making his approach, he encountered “a very strong down draught [downward movement of air] just prior to the threshold”.

The pilot said he applied power but realized his right-hand wheel had snagged the single strand wire fence, electrified to contain farm animals. He reduced power and the aircraft came to rest about 17m from the runway threshold.

Air accident investigators from the Department of Transport said the aircraft had a British permit to fly but there was no record of permission having been given by Irish authorities to operate in Ireland.

The pilot said the reason he had not complied with the requirements in seeking permission to operate in Ireland was due to an oversight, as he had believed a home-built microlight could fly under certain provisions.

The investigators concluded that the pilot was unprepared for a down-draft which resulted in the aircraft’s right-hand wheel getting caught in an electrified fence and a consequent heavy landing, which resulted in damage to the aircraft undercarriage and engine cowling.

Pilatus Aircraft to Set Production Base in Chongqing Liangjiang

 CHONGQING, China, Dec. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Pilatus Aircraft Co., Ltd., a world famous aircraft manufacturer from Switzerland, opened its Chinese headquarters on December 18 (production & service base and delivery center) in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area.

The first two PC-6 airplanes produced on that day were provided to the General Administration of Sports of China as training planes. Over 20 more were ordered by Xinjiang General Aviation Co., Ltd., Yunnan Ruifeng Group and Minsheng Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan said, "China only has around 1,154 airplanes in service at present, with less than 0.4 percent of that in America. In 2015, China will completely relax the control of aircrafts at low altitude so that the demand will greatly increase."

Chongqing has technology advantages in aluminum fabrication and production of general motor, transmission gear and gear case. Pilatus chose the right time to enter the Chinese market.

The vice president of Pilatus Aircraft said, "The company is optimistic about Liangjiang New Area's status and function in mainland China and the massive Chinese market. Pilatus will build the industrial line of general aviation in Chongqing for aircraft production and conduct training."

According to the agreement, this project, with a total investment of some $400 million, includes the establishment of a company engaged in production, general assembly and maintenance of general aircraft, and the relocation of PC-12 production lines for the Asia-Pacific Region and PC-6 production lines from Switzerland to Chongqing.

An annual production capacity of 150 PC-6 and PC-12 airplanes will be formed after the completion of the whole project.

Representing the development of inland China, Liangjiang New Area experienced a year-on-year growth of 20 percent and 300 percent in its economy and international trade respectively from January to September 2012, attracting many transnational enterprises.

Kautex Textron of Germany, one of the world's top 100 automotive fuel tank producers, opened its new factory in Liangjiang New Area on November 29, 2012.

Chongqing Wallenberg Electromechanical Device Co., Ltd., the first authorized dealer of Sweden SKF (manufacturer of bearings) in southwest China, opened in Liangjiang Industrial Park on November 28.

A European Parliament delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China paid a visit to Liangjiang New Area on November 1, 2012. The chair of the delegation said that they will further enhance cooperation with Chongqing.

Dr. Gerold Amelung, the new consul-general of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chengdu and Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador to China, visited Liangjiang New Area on November 28. They hoped more European companies would benefit from the development of the country's western regions.

Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway, honored as the "modern Silk Road," greatly promotes the development of auto and information technology industries in Liangjiang New Area.

The auto production capacity of Liangjiang New Area accounts for one-tenth of China's total while the laptop production capacity occupies one-third of the world's total.

SOURCE Chongqing Liangjiang New Area

Military warned - no cover-ups

Military bosses were told "it is important the RNZAF does not cover up" its illegal shipment of pyrotechnic canisters which endangered the lives of hundreds of passengers on an Air New Zealand flight.

The incident was first revealed by the New Zealand Herald, which has now been provided with a copy of the report into the safety breach that says it "endangered the lives of civilians" and "brought the reputation of the RNZAF under considerable threat".

The internal report told military commanders that they could minimize the damage to the air force's reputation by telling appropriate agencies it happened. The report said "openness to relevant authorities" could "prevent serious repercussion or damage to the RNZAF's reputation should concealment be uncovered by any airline, TAIC [Transport Accident Investigation Commission] or media in the future".

As it happened, no one was told of the incident until it was uncovered by the Herald during its investigation into the air force's safety record. Major changes have now been ordered to the air force's safety structure and external oversight.

The air force has maintained the failure to tell the Civil Aviation Authority, TAIC, Air NZ or any other party was accidental. TAIC was initially misinformed about the nature of the incident - a Defence Force spokesman later said the air force "failed to close the loop" by providing the investigation report into the incident.

The CAA is investigating after the Herald revealed the incident, in which two chemical oxygen generators were put on board an Air NZ flight from Auckland to Canada in 2009. The same sort of canisters - banned from passenger flights - led to a passenger jet disaster, killing more than 100 people. The investigation found military bosses could have been jailed over the breach. The Defence Force could have been blacklisted from civilian airlines.

Investigators found "a considerable number of larger organizational factors and preconditions" led to the safety breach. It also emerged the canisters flown to Canada were actually more dangerous than previously revealed. Neither was properly wrapped or had "safety pins" in place to stop accidental ignition, and one was damaged.

Investigators found injury or death from the shipment could have led to "serious criminal charges" against those involved - including Defence Force commanders. The act of shipping the canisters could still see those involved, and senior commanders, charged under the Crimes Act and/or hazardous goods laws which carry a three-month jail term.

They found "RNZAF's moral responsibility for the safety of the people" in the flight was "of at least equal importance and significance as any other liability".

The CAA investigation is ongoing. The initial inquiry identified "communication processes between the RNZAF and civilian agencies" as needing further investigation.

Air Carriers to Start Nonstop Flights to Key West International Airport: Officials

Airport officials said the flight between New York City and Key West is the longest commercial flight ever to serve the island. 

Peter Anderson, right, blows a conch shell Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, as passengers exit a US Airways plane in Key West, Fla., marking the arrival of the first nonstop flight from Reagan National Airport to Key West International Airport. Saturday also marked the initiation of limited nonstop service from New York's La Guardia Airport to Key West via Delta Airlines.
 (Photo by Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Two commercial carriers started nonstop seasonal service to Key West International Airport over the weekend, the Florida Keys News Bureau announced Sunday. 

 Delta and U.S. Airways will offer the direct flights from New York City and Washington D.C. respectively through Jan. 5.

Passengers Saturday were greeted by water-squirting fire trucks and a man blowing a conch shell, all while walking on a red carpet.

Delta’s direct flights from LaGuardia Airport will also continue each Saturday between March and early April. U.S. Airways flights from Reagan National Airport will continue each Saturday through April as well, officials told NBC 6 South Florida.

Airport officials said the flight between New York City and Key West is the longest commercial flight ever to serve the island.

Southwest Airlines will begin daily service between New Orleans and Key West on March 9.

The director of Monroe County airports said 2012’s passenger count surpassed 2011's number by the end of November, according to the news bureau.

Abusive flight instructor 'mentally tortured' students

New Zealand's lucrative market for foreign students is under the spotlight after a group of Indian students say they were assaulted, ripped off and forced to fly in unsafe conditions at a Palmerston North flight school.

ONE News was first contacted a year and a half ago by a desperate group of Indian students who said they were being physically abused by their flight instructor, who also had control of their accommodation and their visas.

The students at Wings Flight Training Academy say they were assaulted by their chief instructor Ravindra Singh who would hit them while they were flying, causing them to lose control.

"He hit me... and banged me on the aircraft window," one of the students told ONE News.

When approached, Singh denied the allegations, but on Friday, he was found guilty of assaulting two students.

Three others also say they were assaulted.

"I was bleeding like anything and my shirt was full of blood and I told him, 'Sir, I cannot fly'. And he was like, 'No, no, no, I want you to fly right now'," said a student.

Three of Singh's students were certified medically unfit to fly due to stress. One tried to commit suicide.

"He has mentally tortured us so much, we don't concentrate on flying studies, we are scared of him," said student Arjun Ghai.

The Civil Aviation Authority grounded three of Wings' planes, finding loose nuts, missing screws and outdated maps. It also cancelled Singh's pilot license, and Wings flight school has been liquidated.

Most of the students have returned to India, but without their qualifications and without a refund of their fees.

Singh will be sentenced on the assault charges next year.

Story and video:

FLIGHT SCHOOLS: Minister admits more 'rogue' education operators exist

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has admitted there are rogue operations in the education sector after ONE News revealed details of a flight schools where Indian students were assaulted.

New Zealand's lucrative foreign student market has come under fire following revelations flight instructor Singh Ravindra had been convicted of assaulting two of his students at Wings Flight Training Academy flight school in Palmerston North.

Joyce described the flight school has "very disappointing" and admitted there was room for improvement in monitoring education providers.

He said the sector would look at trying to create better cooperation to deal with complaints.

"We're constantly tightening the system up, it's important of course to make sure we get it right and encourage the students to come here and they're looked after."

Wings Flight Training Academy flight school received glowing reports from NZQA for four years, before the school was placed into liquidation.

NZQA said there were "highly confident" in Singh who they described as a "respected father figure" to his students. They said he had created a "family atmosphere".

Former students say the NZQA was duped.

"Our money is gone, our life is gone, our education problem is still here," said Ajitesh Tripati.

Tripati, along with other students, began to receive late night phone calls from a man in India after they complained about their abusive flight instructor to New Zealand authorities.

"If there is any legal action against you, there is no one that will be able to save you, not even the prime minister of India," said the unidentifiable man.

An education appeals authority later found Singh had been breaking rules from the very day he started training pilots.

"Captain Singh effectively controls everything that these students do from the moment they arrive," read the report.

"They can seek no independent assistance...His system is alien to the New Zealand education system."

There are currently more than 100,000 international students studying in New Zealand with the biggest group originating from India.

Joyce recently flew to New Delhi to sign an agreement promoting flight training for Indian student in New Zealand.

Story and video:

Samba XLA, EI-JIM: Plane crashed into vegetation at Fenland airfield because runway was mowed too narrow

A plane crashed into overgrown vegetation at a Fenland airfield because the landing strip had not been mowed correctly, an investigation has revealed.

 The aircraft suffered damage to the landing gear, wings and tailplane after it ploughed into the plants and spun off the runway at Chatteris Airfield.

The 55-year-old pilot and his passenger, who had flown from Duxford, were unharmed in the crash which happened on August 18 this year.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report found that Runway 23 at the airfield, off Block Fen Drove, was listed in a commercial flight guide as being 11m wide.

The report said: “Just before touchdown, the aircraft’s right wing contacted vegetation to the right of the runway, causing it to yaw through 180 degrees and depart the runway about 200m from the threshold.

“In his report, the pilot stated that the wing had struck vegetation over 1m high, and that the runway strip was in fact only mowed to a width of about 6m.”

The 10m wing-span of the Samba XLA plane, which was visiting from Ireland, made it impossible to avoid the collision on the overgrown runway.

The pilot, who had more than 1,000 hours of flying experience, had been informed to consult the flight guide by the airfield, which is home to the North London Parachute Centre.

He had made radio contact with a parachute jump aircraft and waited until all parachutists had landed before approaching the runway.