Monday 10 September 2012

As Dana takes flight again: Matters arising

As Dana takes flight again: Matters arising
By Joan Oribhabor.

The trend of grounding Airlines and phasing out of a particular fleet of Aircrafts after each Accident has been a re-curring culture in the Nigerian Aviation Industry as  experts insists that the act is contrary to the practice in most of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member countries.
95 Days After Dana Air Crash, the Federal Government Lifts suspension of the Air Operating Certificate (AOC) of Dana Air which was suspended in the wake of the June 3,2012 aircraft accident involving a Dana Air flight in Lagos in which more than 153 persons lost their lives.
The announcement was greeted with an outcry from the general public which ofcourse is expected; after the mishap, though the AIB, NCAA and John Obakpolor panel set up by the Federal Government exonerated the operator of being the cause of the crash, many expects that persons found culpable of the crash should have atleast been prosecuted for acts against humanity  before the return of Dana’s commercial operation.
According to ICAO practises, when an airline is involved in a crash, it is wrong to ground the airline, what should be done at that stage is to investigate the incident and ensure that justice is served.
The incident which started the trend of grounding Aircrafts as aftermath of each accident without a recourse to the actual cause of the accident can be traced to years back with the Nigeria Airways.
The flight, F28 Reg. No. 5N – ANF – S/N 11090 on 28th November, 1983 during Harmattan on approach to Landing at Enugu Airport had an accident with a loss of lives of 2 crews and 51passengers. 
As a result of the accident, the eight (8) remaining F28 Aircrafts were subsequently sold to some European countries in 1979. Some of the Aircrafts Aviation experts argue were barely 3 years old from the factory when they were sold; Investigation shows that by 2003 four (4) Aircrafts were still in operation, one each in Indonesia, Iran, Libya and Burkina Faso.

Consequently, the same mistake was again repeated in 2002 when an EAS BAC I – II Aircraft operated by Capt. Idris Wada, now the Executive Governor of Kogi State had an accident on the 4th of May, 2002, at Gwammaja District of Kano City, in which 67 passengers and 6 crews lost their lives on board the BAC I – II Aircraft. 30 other people on the ground died and 23 were seriously injured. 23 residential buildings, two mosques and a school were also said to have been destroyed in the crash.

Albarka and Savannah Airlines were forced to close down. Two of Chanchangi Airlines BAC I – II just returning from a fresh C-Check spending over $800,000 were grounded and phased out. Ever since, Chanchangi Airlines have not been the same.
It is neccessary to note that BAC I – II Aircrafts were operating in more than 17
countries as at the time of grounding them in Nigeria. 244 of such Aircrafts were produced over a period of 37 years. It was due to the design qualities of the BAC I – II that the Americans developed their well celebrated DC – 9 Aircraft.
Not forgeting the Sossoliso Airlines Accident of 10th December, 2012 at Port Harcourt Airport involving a DC – 9 Aircraft 5N-BFD which saw the forced closure of the Airline based on policy decision, contrary to the world best practices.
Many professional jobs are lost as a result of lack of consistency in government policies on aviation. The ADC Airlines Accident of 29th October, 2006 at the Abuja International Airport involving B737 – 200 with Registration Number 5N
– BFK saw the closure of the Airlines business.
Recall that the ADC Airline was the pioneer Airline that started the West Coast Operations following into the footstep of the defunct National Carrier, the Nigeria Airways.
The continuos shut down of airlines in events of accidents or crashes, deter possible investors from investing in an Industry with the ability to strive as the nations  economy hub. Demand for air travel is projected to grow in the medium to long-term when passengers safety is assured.
Of all the airlines mentioned, the only exception to this closure was the Bellview Airlines accident near (Lissa Village) on 22nd OCTOBER, 2005. 
The then Minister of Aviation did not exercise the option of closing down the Airline after the incident for not any know reason.
Africa’s fragmented economy desperately needs airlines to facilitate trade, tourism and growth, as well as to provide employment and technical skills.
Government  and the Nigerian public is thereby urged of the foregoing and in the larger interest of the aviation industry to allow Dana Airlines to continue with its normal operations in Nigeria. In addition, the Minister is also requested to revisit
similar issues currently affecting the ADC Airlines and Sossoliso, so that
consideration shall be made for their restoration in the aviation market.
Some of the recommendations by the Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike (rtd) inquiry had recommended the following: that the NCAA should ensure stringent airworthiness certification procedures for ageing aircraft. They should also re-orientate airworthiness inspectors on the necessary steps and checks on ageing aircraft and ensure that the most experienced staff are assigned to inspect ageing aircraft. 
Government should enforce the registration of foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to enable them pay appropriate taxes to Government in line with extant regulations. All aviation agencies should develop in-house maintenance manuals. This will serve as a standard against which maintenance performance levels shall  be measured at any given time.

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