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OPINION

Season Of Air Mishaps

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This year 2018 is increasingly reminding us of tragic hazards associated with the flying profession worldwide. In the first quarter of this year a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Beetle Aircraft crashed in Kaduna while on a mission killing the only soul on board. That only soul was the Airforce experienced instructor pilot. The chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar reportedly, immediately directed the constitution of a board of inquiry to dertermin the immediate and remote causes of the crash. The result of that inquiry is yet to see the light of the day.

Earlier on March 19 this year the Nigeria Airforce confirmed to newsmen in Abuja that its training airplane known as diamond 40 crashed due to an airbone emergency that made it impossible for the pilot to fly the aircaraft back to Base.

Therefore the pilot reportedly force-landed the aircraft but with minimal damage to it and the student pilot who was the only one on board suffered minor injuries.

As usual the Chief of Air Staff ordered the constitution of a board of inquiry to dertermine the real cause of the crash as efforts were made to recover the aircraft.

Just as Nigerians were coming to terms with the two crashes, the news broke of an emergency door falling off on landing of Dana Airlines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport. Shortly after that incident the airlines aircaraft numbered 900363 was enmeshed in another aviation near mishap this time in PortHarourt, capital of Rivers State, when its airplane coming from Abuja, under a heavy rain accompanied by strong wind and storm, overshot the PortHarcourt runway.

There was reportedly no injury to passengers as they were safely evacutated from the marooned plane.

This season of air mishaps in Nigeria and across the globe started in December 2017 and stretched into the new year when a polish fighter MIG – 29 aircraft crashed as it was preparing for a landing at the airport in Minsk Mazowiecki, a town near the nation’s capital, Warsaw.

According to the polish ministry of defense, the pilot  managed to catapult when the communication between the aircraft and the base was lost before finally crashing. But he survived the crash.

By march this year about he time the Nigerian Airforce Aircraft crashed, a Senegalese MI-17 helicopter travelling at night from Ziguinchor in south – western Senegal to the capital, Dakar, crashed in the central part of the country, killing eight people and injuring several others.

The air crashes in Poland and Senegal was reportedly due to faulty repair of the helicopters. The aircrafts were reportedly not certified with Russian repair as counterfeit spare parts reportedly made by Kiev were used. In fact the special commission led by the president of Senegal to investigate the cause of the MI-17 crash came to the conclusion that the main reason was the low quality repair of the helicopter engine.

The world woke up on February 12 this year to the horror of the crash into densily snowy terrain of the Saratov airlines flight in Russia reportedly killing all 71 souls including children on board . The White House said “the United States is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of the Saratov Airlines passengers and cruise”.

The Antonov An-148 aircraft is a Ukrainian – designed regional jet that was first introduced in 2009. Russian state airline, GTK Rossiya, the first carrier to operate the jet that crashed was sharply critical in 2010 of the AN – 148’s reliability early on in its services, citing problems with major components like engines and electrical systems, according to Flight Global.

Only recently a Kenyan airline aircraft disappeared  without trace. The danger of flight mishaps especially now the rainy season has set in prompted the Accident Investigation Bureau AIB to embark on a review of 120 safety recommendations it issued since 2007 when it was set up.

The essence of the review, the Bureau said is to ascertain whether the recommendations have reduced incidents and air mishaps with the  objective to achieve safer skies and mitigate hazards in flight operations.

All hands are at the pumps now to stem further air mishaps in the country and abroad. The military authorities are taking stock and acquiring original equipment for services of its aircrafts. The Federal Government is auditing the operations of airlines involved in one incident or the other. The airlines themselves are    renewing their  efforts in facing  the challenges of ensuring safer flying experience for air travelers.

The Nigerian civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, the Federal Ministry of Transport, independent aviation experts and AIB representatives are meeting to holistically review the effectiveness of all recommendations with a view to enhance the aviation industry’s capacity to improve safety.

– Mohammed writes from Abuja



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