Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nigeria Queries Delta Air Lines Officials Over Emergency Landing In Lagos: Airbus A330-200, N858NW

Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has commenced an investigation into the aircraft incident involving Delta Air Lines in Nigeria.

The bureau today interrogated the crew of the airline at its office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.

A source close to the agency told SaharaReporters that the pilots and the cabin crew were among those interrogated today by the agency. This is as the airline has tendered apologies to the Federal Government over the late report of last Tuesday’s incident to the bureau in which one of its engines was engulfed in fire mid-air forcing the airline to return and land in Lagos on emergency.

AIB had told journalists in Lagos on Wednesday that the airline refused to report the incident to it as required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended practises and standards.

Rather, the airline went ahead to report the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States.

A statement by Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, the General Manager, Public Affairs of AIB today said that the airline had apologized to the country for its conduct. 

The aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 aircraft had returned to MMIA barely thirty minutes in the air. 

The Atlanta bound Delta Flight 55, which departed Lagos Tuesday night returned, following an issue with one of the Airbus 330-200's two engines.

Leading a team of the airline officials including the technical crew of the flight and the airlines Lagos Airport station Manager to the Ikeja head office of the bureau around 5pm local time, Miss Shannon Masters, Manager, Air Safety Investigation expressed the airline's regret for the oversight, stressing that it was not intentional.

Said Masters: “We sincerely apologized for the error and we promise to cooperate with AIB in the investigation of this occurrence.”

The Commissioner of AIB, Akin Olateru, while accepting Delta's apology said AIB had already commenced an investigation into the serious incident and welcome the airline's cooperation. 

"We look forward to receiving cooperation from Delta Air Lines as we work to determine the cause of this serious incident in the interest of safety.“

The Nigerian accident investigation body had frowned at the American carrier's failure to notify it of the serious incident involving its aircraft in line with Nigerian air safety regulations and international practice. 

The airline was believed to have notified the United States NTSB of the occurrence immediately in line with the US laws.

Nigeria, as the state of occurrence under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13 is responsible for investigating any aircraft occurrences within her airspace. 

The state of registry of the aircraft and the airline may serve as observers.

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has grounded the United States-bound Delta Air Lines aircraft that made an emergency landing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMA), Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday night.

The Commissioner of AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, said the Bureau took the step because Delta Air Lines failed to report the incident, in which five persons were injured, 17 hours after it occurred.

“Consequently, the Bureau has impounded the aircraft and insisted that it must not be accessed to avoid contamination before investigation,” he said.

The Bureau also directed the crew not to travel until they are interviewed by the agency.

Olateru made this known while briefing aviation correspondents at the agency’s headquarter at the MMIA, Lagos on the latest on the incident involving the  Delta Air Lines.

He said: “As you are aware, AIB is an agency of government that investigates accidents and serious incidents. The agency was established by an enabling Act of 2006, and all we do here is in accordance with our regulation which takes a cue from the ICAO Annexe 13. Everything we do here is in accordance with ICAO Annexe 13. Unfortunately, up until 3:00 pm, this afternoon, Delta as an airline has refused to notify AIB in accordance with the law of our country.

“But they notified the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) but they refused as at 3pm today, there is still no notification from Delta Air Lines as to this serious incident. We have an obligation to notify the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on this serious incident but unfortunately, we cannot fulfil that obligation because we are still waiting for Delta Air Lines to give us information as to this serious incident. This is a serious incident and by law we are investigating.” He explained that because the serious incident happened in Nigeria, it is the country of occurrence and it has a significant role to play in the investigation.

He regretted that instead of Delta Air Lines reporting the mishap to Nigeria, it first reported it to United States National Transportation Safety Board.

According to him: “But in this case, we are able and equipped to investigate this serious incident and we will investigate it. But for the sake of clarity, I am disappointed in Delta Air Lines. It is totally unacceptable, and we condemn it in its totality and I believe the way I see it we are being undermined, which is not acceptable.

“ICAO law governs all the activities of air transport business. They know that we must be notified. Our websites are there; they can download the form, they can download the App. We wrote to Delta October last year notifying them that we have AIB App, which they just need to download on their phone and send us notification.”

Throwing more light on the major incident, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, described the incident as very serious one after inspecting the damage and noted that the cause of the serious incident would be known after investigations have been carried out.

Usman said: “I have been at the site and from what we saw it is a serious incident and by ICAO standards and also in line with the NCAA Act that sets up the AIB, they will be investigating the serious incident to determine the cause and also make safety recommendations to prevent such from happening again.

“One of the engines of the aircraft was reportedly on fire, the captain requested or declared what we call May Day, which was an emergency that he wanted to come back citing one of the engines was on fire, requesting for emergency services and all the agencies that were required to be there were there for that aircraft to ensure that everything went smoothly.

“The aircraft landed safely, there was precautionary evacuation of passengers, however, details of the cause and recommendation will come from the AIB.”

The Delta Air Lines Flight DL055, which departed MMIA about 10.45 pm on Tuesday night made an air return to Lagos barely 31 minutes into the 11 hours flight, following a breakdown of one of the two engines mid-air.

Five of the over 100 passengers, who were on-board the Airbus A330-200 aircraft with registration number N858NW, were injured.

It was gathered that the injured passengers and crew members were rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja; Air Force Base Clinic; and FAAN Medical Centre for speedy medical attention while the aircraft blocked access to the runway for about an hour before being pushed back to allow departure and landing of other aircraft.

A report received from the Consumer Protection Directorate (CPD) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) indicated that the flight departed at 22:45, but made an emergency landing at 23:16, which was 31 minutes after departure.

The report said that the pilot-in-command (PIC) announced the evacuation of all the passengers on board within 90 seconds, after contacting the control towers because the left engine of the aircraft caught fire mid-air in-flight.

The CPD report stated that passengers were evacuated via the emergency sliding doors within few seconds while all airport agencies’ officials on duty were on the ground within few minutes that the emergency alarm was announced.

Some of the agencies on ground included the Aviation Security (AVSEC), NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Fire Service, Port Health and Aviation Clinic.

Others were officials of Quarantine, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and several others who rendered assistance to the passengers and the crew members.

The report added: “Although, there is no death recorded as at the time of filing this report, but quite a number of crew and passenger casualties were recorded and have been taken to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) at Ikeja, Air Force Base Clinic and FAAN Medical Centre for speedy medical attention.

“Meanwhile, the Delta Air Lines aircraft was on the runway for over an hour, which led to its closure before KLM, Lufthansa and Air France could depart afterwards. The aircraft was later towed with a push back truck to the open parking bay close to boarding gate E 63.

“However the remaining casualty-free passengers were later taken to a hotel after the flight was announced cancelled and rescheduled for a date yet to be specified and communicated.”

Delta Air Lines in its statement noted that the flight landed safely and customers exited the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides.

It said that airport fire authorities met the aircraft upon arrival while the passengers were bussed back to the terminal.

It said: “Five of the passengers had non-critical injuries as a result of the evacuation. Delta teams have provided overnight hotel accommodations to customers and will rebook customers on an alternate Delta aircraft Wednesday (yesterday) afternoon. The safety of Delta’s customers and crew members is always our top priority.”

Both NCAA and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) have swung into action to find out what caused the incident and would make their reports known to the public as quickly as possible, sources from the agencies said.

The passengers of the ill-fated flight were billed to fly out with another airline on Wednesday night.

Original article can be found here ➤


Jim B said...

"He regretted that instead of Delta Air Lines reporting the mishap to Nigeria, it first reported it to United States National Transportation Safety Board"

One could say -

(1) Hey Delta, when you land in Nigeria you play by Nigerian rules.


(2) Hey NCAA, despite the fact that the NTSB was informed first you still need to answer the phone despite the fact you are miffed and do your job. Do you really need to care whether the NTSB was informed first? Does it really matter?

I do not think all the facts are in yet.

Let say from a comsumer standpoint the aircraft got down safely with minimal loss of life and property.

Hats off to the flight crew.

Anonymous said...

US-NTSB supposedly appointed three investigators to work with AIB. The NTSB investigators are enroute, should be arriving later today.

Thoughts and prayers for airline crew ;)