National Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA), has described as misleading and unprofessional the statement credited to Group Capt. John Ojikutu on the crashed Dana Air airplane of June 3, 2012 in which he alleged that the controller abdicated his emergency responsibility to a junior officer.
The association stressed that Ojikutu is not a qualified Air Traffic Controller and lacked the competence to comment on issues the way he did.
In a statement signed by the president and general secretary of NATCA, Haske Jibrin and Martin Akujuobi respectively, it said that the officers on duty complied with both local and international Air Traffic Control Instructions in force in the airspace and aerodrome concerned.
This is in addition to the emergency response procedures approved and published for use by Duty Air Traffic Controllers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos in the event of Aircraft Accidents.
NATCA also queried the professional competence and experience claimed by Ojikutu.
“The onus, therefore, lies on him to furnish his listeners with his license number, ratings held and aerodromes of validation during his historic 26 year sojourn as an air traffic controller as he has posted before the public.”
“His phraseologies as reported by the media do not in any way define him as an Air Traffic Controller that he claimed to be. For example, his call for the tape transcript of conversations held between the Pilot and Lagos and Kano Control Towers showed that he does not understand the architecture, division of responsibilities, and transfer of control procedures within the Nigerian airspace. Neither did he demonstrate any knowledge of Accident Investigation Standards and Recommended Practices (ICAO Annex 13), as manifested in his call for unrelated Air Traffic Control/Pilot conversations tape transcript, for a time frame that will neither aid investigation nor give any further clue as to the potential role of Air Traffic Control in such an accident.”
They debunked the claim that there were gaps in the tape transcript, and stressed that modern Air Traffic Controller/Pilot Conversation tape-recording which NAMA employed was digitalised and tamper –proof while recording times were captured during each active transmission. The idle periods were also captured and added that for the purposes of investigation, the active transmission times were listened to, while the idle periods bearing no messages were ignored.
According to NATCA, the Approach Radar Controller maintained the required emergency response procedures and was in active coordination with the unit providing aerodrome control.
It added that the unit providing aerodrome control has a responsibility of carrying out the alerting duties to all rescue organisations in line with the airport’s emergency plan.
“This, the duty Tower Controller did according to available records and in record time too. Both units (Approach Radar and Aerodrome control) were manned by duly licensed and rated/validated Air Traffic Controllers, whose professional licenses vest them with the burden of being individually accountable officers irrespective of rank,” NATCA said.