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Too many for comfort

•Senate is right to summon minister over air near-mishaps

IT is a positive development that a string of shocking aviation incidents within the first two months of the year has attracted the attention of the Senate.  The country’s upper legislature on March 6 resolved to summon the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to address the chamber in plenary on the recent air near-mishaps.

Following a motion by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos-East) and 14 others, entitled ‘The Need to Minimise the Possibility of Air Mishaps and Near Fatalities in Nigeria,’ the legislators agreed that there was a need to urge the minister “to immediately direct all relevant agencies in the aviation industry to immediately conduct a maintenance and airworthiness audit on all commercial aircraft operating within the Nigerian airspace as well as the training of personnel operating within the industry.”

The Senate’s concern is appropriate. It noted that in a particular case on February 7, the emergency door of an Abuja-bound aircraft fell off upon landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

It is noteworthy that the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released a preliminary report on the ongoing investigation into a serious incident involving Delta Air Airbus A330-223 aircraft with registration N858NW, which occurred after take-off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on February 13.

The bureau also released preliminary reports on an incident involving the DANA Air MD – 83, marked 5N-SRI, which overran the runway at the Port Harcourt International Airport on March 5, as well as an incident involving Gulfstream G200 aircraft belonging to Nestor Oil with registration number 5N-BTF, which occurred at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on January 25.

According to the AIB report, the Delta A330-223 aircraft was on a scheduled flight with 221 passengers and 13 crew members on board. It made an air return a few minutes after take-off following a fire warning. The Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS) reported observing fire on one of the engines and extinguished it. Passengers were evacuated using the emergency slides on the right side of the aircraft. One passenger sustained serious injury. Eleven suffered minor injuries.

On Dana Air MD-83, the report said: “The crew reported that the runway had experienced recent rain before arrival and after touchdown, looked and felt contaminated with flood of water that did not drain well. Other findings include the fact that after the aircraft came to a complete stop, emergency evacuation was carried out using only the left forward main door and the escape slide on this door did not deploy just as the Public Address System did not work.”

The Senate’s motion stated: “It is against this backdrop that it has now become imperative to move with speed and alacrity in order to ensure that all relevant agencies in the aviation industry do their work with excellence and minimal human error in order to prevent avoidable loss of human lives.”

Although no fatalities were reported in these incidents, there is no doubt that they were dangerous enough and deserve to be investigated. The AIB’s preliminary reports did not state the probable causes of the occurrences as investigations are still in progress. It is reassuring that AIB Commissioner Akin Olateru was quoted as saying: “We are seriously committed to releasing investigation reports on time. This is one way to ensure that such occurrences are prevented from repeating themselves and conform with the purpose of accident investigation.”

The investigations should be carried out with a sense of urgency. The public needs to know why the incidents happened and how the authorities intend to prevent recurrences. Also, it needs to be stressed that the authorities should take action to prevent recurrences. We urge the AIB to release the full reports on time, identifying laxities, where any, so that sanctions can be applied where necessary. Aviation safety should not be just a slogan; it should be achieved.

The post Too many for comfort appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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This post was syndicated from The Nation Nigeria. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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