AIB blames pilots’ error for 2012 Dana crash

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Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

The Accident Investigation Bureau on Monday blamed the crash of a Dana Airlines aircraft, which occurred in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos on June 3, 2012 and claimed about 159 lives, on double engine failure as well as failure of the pilot to take the appropriate decision to land on the nearest air field.

The Boeing MD-83 aircraft, with registration 5N-RAM, which was coming from Abuja, had crashed into some houses in the area, killing all 153 people on board and six others on the ground.

The Commissioner, AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, said investigations found that the aircraft’s engine number one lost power 17 minutes into the flight from Abuja, and thereafter on final approach, the second engine also lost power, which made it to crash into the densely populated Lagos suburb.

He said, “The probable causal factors were: engine number one lost power 17 minutes into the flight, and thereafter on final approach, engine number two lost power and failed to respond to throttle movement on demand for increased power to sustain the aircraft in its flight configuration.

“There was inappropriate omission of the use of the checklist, and the crew’s inability to appreciate the severity of the power-related problem, and their subsequent failure to land at the nearest suitable airfield as well as lack of situation awareness, inappropriate decision-making, and poor airmanship.”

Olateru said following the investigations, eight safety recommendations were made to the manufacturer of the engine, Pratt and Whitney, as well as Dana Airlines, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

He added, “The safety recommendations previously made in the preliminary report published on September 5, 2012 were four wherein three were targeted at Dana Airlines and all were accepted and closed.

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“One was to the NCAA, accepted and closed. There were four safety recommendations made in the published reports, one of which is to the FAA targeting Pratt & Whitney, the engine manufacturer; one to Dana Airlines; one to the NCAA, with three safety recommendations in one; and one to NAMA on quality assurance management.”

The AIB also released the reports on accidents involving OAS Helicopters Limited’s Ecuruiel A350B2 helicopter with registration number 5NBKA at Oke-Oba Hill, Ikonifin, Osun State, on July 29, 2011; that involving the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security with registration 5N-BKS at the Benin airport on July 5, 2012; and the other involving Bristow Helicopters’ Sikorsky S-92 chopper with registration number 5N-BOA at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, on February 27, 2013.

On the OAS Helicopters’ incident, Olateru said the factors were non-adherence of the pilot to visual flight rules of clear-of cloud and obstacles, while maintaining ground contact at all times, which led to controlled flight into terrain.

“The pilot was not instrument-rated and he lacked route familiarisation, being a foreigner,” he stated.

He added that five safety recommendations were made to the NCAA, NAMA and the Nigeria Police Force.

On the PICOMSS crash in Benin, he said the cause of the accident was the decision of the crew to continue the glide approach on landing despite repeated landing gear warnings, with the power lever below 25 per cent rather than initiating a go-around as well as the failure of the crew to recognise the landing gear warnings.

Bristow’s crash, Olateru said, was caused by fire on the upper deck of the cabin caused by the malfunction of a cable.

He said stakeholders needed to come together to address issues of accident investigation.

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“In the last couple of weeks, the AIB has been engaging with different agencies and stakeholders to see how we can collaborate and cooperate for the benefit of the flying public, and we were assured that we can all together achieve the desired objectives when all hands are on deck,” he stated.

Olateru also noted that the bureau lacked adequate funding for accident investigation and training of staff, and asked for the government to provide it with an intervention fund.

While reacting to the report, Dana Airlines said it implemented the interim safety recommendations of the AIB in 2013.

It also stated that it passed an operational audit conducted by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s Flight Safety Group and its foreign partners.

In a statement signed by its Media and Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, the airline said, “We wish to also state that Dana Air swung into action immediately the interim safety recommendations were released in 2013; and as an airline strictly committed to the safety and comfort of its guests, we implemented all the recommendations same year as released by the AIB.”

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