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Aviation crisis deepens as NCAA suspends Dana Air

By The Rainbow

Aviation may have flown into more turbulence, with the suspension yesterday of major carrier Dana Air's operating licence.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said its action was to allow it carry out an audit of the airline.

There was no official reason for the sudden audit, but a source said the airline may have had an air return, which is not seen as a 'big deal' in the industry.

The operating licence of Associated Airlines has been suspended, following last Thursday's crash in Lagos.

NCAA spokesman Yakubu Datti, confirmed the suspension 'with immediate effect' of Dana's licence.

This is the third time the airline's licence has been suspended since June 3, last year, when its plane crashed at Iju-Ishaga, on the outskirts of Lagos, killing more than 100 people on board.

The airline regained its licence in September last year and resumed operations in January.

It was suspended again when the battery of one of its planes had a problem at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

The Accident Investigations Bureau (AIB) said it had begun investigation into the incident involving a Kabo Air B747, which occurred in Sokoto on Friday.

AIB spokesman Tunji Oketunbi, in a statement yesterday in Lagos, said the aircraft carrying Saudi Arabia-bound pilgrims was believed to have burst tyres on landing.

'AIB investigators have been dispatched to conduct investigation into the circumstance surrounding the incident with a view to determining the probable cause,' the statement said.

Oketunbi said that AIB was charged with the responsibility to investigate aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the country and where Nigeria interest was represented.

'AIB's investigation is not to apportion blame or liability but to prevent future recurrence and improve air safety through safety recommendations,'' he said.

Manufacturers of the Embraer 120, which crashed last Thursday in Lagos, are expected in Nigeria this week to join the investigations, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The aircraft operated by Associated Airline crashed about one minute after take-off for Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the Murtala Muhammed airport, Ikeja. It was carrying the body of the late Ondo State Governor Dr. Segun Agagu. Twenty people were aboard the flight. Fourteen died.

'A team from Brazilian Air Force Embraer is expected this week,' a source said, adding: 'As soon as the crashed occurred we notified the Brazilian manufacturers and they promised to assist in the investigations.

Also yesterday, The Nation learnt that the black box of the aircraft will be analysed locally. The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is said to have a new laboratory, which can handle the job.

The CAE Flightscope of Canada installed the laboratory where flight Data Recorder will be ananlysed - in a bid to reconstruct the events before the plane went down.

The Flight Recorder will show the performance of the engine, the aircraft's speed and direction.

'It will also indicate the situation of all the systems - the engine, hydraulics etc,' said the source.

Also expected in Lagos are the official of the Lloyds' of London, the aircraft's insurers. They are expected to come with medical experts, who will take DNA samples of the victims.

Ondo state government yesterday sent a high-power delegation to Lagos to condole with the wife of Deji Falae, who until his death in last Thursday plane crash in Lagos was the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in the state.

Members of the delegation which include commissioners and special aides to the governor also visited the late Olusegun Agagu's son, Feyi and his son-in-law, Femi Akinsanya who survived the plane crash and are recuperating at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Other survivors visited include: Queenet Owolabi and air hostess, Akintunde Taiwo,, orderly to Feyi Agagu and Fatoye Friday.

The team was also at the Lagos Island office of MIC casket to commiserate with members of staff on the loss of the Managing Director, Tunji Okusanya and his son with four other workers of the company.

Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Kola Ademujimi led the delegation which include: Gboye Adegbenro, Commissioner for Works, Mr. Akin Adaramola, Budget and Economic Planning, Remi Olatubora, Adult Technical and Vocational Education, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, Information, Chief Sola Ebiseni, Environment, Chief Mrs. Yemi Mahmudd, Women Affairs and Ademola Olorunfemi, Special Adviser to the governor on Agriculture. Wives of the members of the state Executive Council were also in attendance.

Commiserating with the widow of Deji Falae at their Dolphin Estate home on behalf of the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko and the people of Ondo State, Ademujimi said the visit was to condole with the family over the loss of their bread winner and a colleague.

He described the late Falae as a jolly good fellow who always made intelligent and in-depth contributions at the state Executive meetings. Ademujimi said: ' He will be greatly missed by all of us, you are not alone in this grief and sorrow, we pray that God should give us the grace to bear this irreparable loss.'

The Chief of Staff also promised that everything would be dne to ensure the family does not suffer especially the education of the children adding that the untimely death of Falae was a bitter pill to swallow but man cannot question God.

At the LUTH, the delegation met with Feyi Agagu who after receiving Governor Mimiko's well wishes thanked the government for the support and kind gesture. The son-in-law to the late governor, Akinsanya, who displayed high spirits also thanked Mimiko for raising a powerful team to visit the victims.

Meanwhile, the Agagu family has cleared the air over the controversy surrounding the choice of the ill-fated Associated Airlines which crashed on Thursday. The family said contracts for the purchase of the casket, the hiring of the hearse, arrangements for the flying of the corpse from Lagos to Akure as well as the transportation to Iju Odo were between the Ondo state government and MIC as part of the plans to give the former governor a state burial.

Reacting to allegations that the Agagu family chose the aircraft that conveyed the remains of the former governor, Femi Agagu, younger brother to the late governor dismissed the report as 'false, wicked and deliberate distortion of facts.'

He said: ' We appreciate the immense support of the state government since the demise of Dr. Olusegun Agagu, but we would like to state that we were only \invited to point to the type of casket we wanted. Every other arrangement including the flight, lying in state and transportation to Iju odo were made by the state government and MIC. We did not choose Associated Airline and any claim that we did is total falsehood and we believe such reports could not have emanated from the state government.'

He also added: 'While we commiserate with the families of those who lost their lives in the plane crash, we also urge Nigerians to focus more on them instead of wasting time on baseless media speculations.'