Nigerian Aviation: 3 mishaps in 2weeks, one call too many

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Asked why they do not take their work seriously, some Nigerian civil servant said, “Our take home pay, cannot take us home”. Continuing they said “We don't put civil service work on our head. It belongs on your shoulder, so when it gets too tedious,

we drop it”. Little wonder, many never play by the rules, and in most cases desire to circumvent laid down rules and regulations.

This attitude towards work learnt has become a menace, particularly the in Nigerian aviation sector. Air travel is sophisticated and highly technical; errors are not permissible as they are costly. Undeniably, the rate of air crash in Nigeria is low compared to automobile accidents, but when they occur, they are fatal and the cost of recovery is huge. understands that in the aviation sector in both developed and developing countries, open exchange of safety information is performed constantly in order to continuously promote aviation safety. However, in Nigeria the status quo appears different, as recent mishaps have been linked to information exchange or lack thereof. In the past two weeks, there have been three near mishaps; which is an indication that all is not well within the Nigerian aviation sector.

The irony is, all but one of these near mishaps involving an incumbent governor was blacked out by the Nigerian media. When our correspondent inquired about the under reporting of these incidents, a highly placed aviation ministry official, who pleaded for anonymity said, “They were not news worthy”. Now the question that is, when did top Nigerian Aviation officials vis-à-vis airline operators become the final gate keeper (Editor) of most Nigerian Newspapers? Propagandist says “they have been monetized”.

Virgin Nigeria Limited & explosion in mid air
According to an eyewitness, who was a passenger on this flight. “Last Friday November 6th, passengers had boarded virgin Nigeria aircraft from Lagos to Abuja. The flight was scheduled to depart at 5p.m, the plane took off as scheduled, but 15minutes into the flight, there was an explosion, and the air plane started vibrating, there was pandemonium, every one began to pray. We were later informed by the pilot that one of the engines had stopped working. The plane was turned around and maintenance work done on it, and at 6p.m passengers rembarked”. When contacted the Nigerian Aviation Ministry, they said they were not aware of the Virgin Nigeria incidence, four days after it occurred. But in a surprising twist insulted the sensibility of flying Nigerians, saying “Nigerians are not used to flying, and they like to over exaggerate issues. The problem we have is turbulence, which is a normal phenomenon”.

Arik Airline and pilot to be sanctioned
According to the top aviation ministry source, “our finding has shown that there was negligence on the part of part of Arik Airline. Prior to take off, the pilot observed that the light within the cockpit showed that the plane had engine problems, and needed to be checked or probably serviced. But the pilot and Arik air management chose to ignore the check engine light, thus putting the passengers in harms way”. Consequently, the regulatory ministry has concluded that Arik Airline and the pilot are culpable and will be sanctioned”. Earlier in the week, broke the story on the near mishap involving Arik airline, according to an eyewitness, who was also a passenger, “''I was on the flight and I can tell you it was the scariest episode to have ever happened to me. You know we were just on board and we've been served dinner before it all started. You know normal turbulence is expected but all of a sudden the whole thing went out of hand, as the plane quickly lost altitude. The flight was supposed to leave Abuja at 7:10pm but was delayed until 8:20 pm. Right from when we took off, the seat belt light sign was on, but that could have been due to bad whether. Only God knows what could have gone wrong, but my brother it was as if judgment day had come for us all. Initially, the pilot did not say anything, but when he said to us that we were crash landing and should follow the instruction of the cabin crew, oxygen mask were already down and the emergency light was on. The mention that we were crash landing by the pilot got everyone worried and scared. ''Do you want to know the truth? People were crying, and the cabin crew were also scared of losing their lives. You know they don't have extra lives and they were saying their last prayers”.

Gov. Akpabio near mishap: Air Traffic Controller (ATC) was responsible investigation reveals that recklessness on the part of an Air traffic controller may have been responsible for this near mishap involving Akwa Ibom state governor. Recall that only 13 days ago a relatively brand new Hawker 900 chartered aircraft, conveying the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Godswill Obot Akpabio, permanent secretary, Government House, Mr. Etekamba Umoren and his director of protocol, Mr. Aniekpeno Ukpanang to Lagos escaped what would have been a tragic air mishap. This mishap understands resulted in an air hostess collapsing inside the aircraft just as the pilot tried to maneuver the aircraft from colliding with another aircraft which was taking off from the Port Harcourt International Airport. understands that the air traffic controller on duty had communicated confusing information to both pilots. Whereas he told one of the pilots to descend at 21,000fts, which was reconfirmed by the pilot; however, his log book showed he meant 25,000ft.As if this anomaly wasn't enough, the ATC simultaneously, asked the hawker carrying the governor and his aide to fly at 24,000fts. Thus, while the Hawker 900 was flying at about 24000ft above sea level, the other aircraft which was above it was descending right into the Hawker 900 aircraft.

However, learnt that this was averted by readings from the Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS) in the hawker 900, which is like a radar and shows the pilot the position and distance of other aircrafts and their levels. Nevertheless most Nigerian planes are flying blind because they don't have the Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS).

Speaking to our correspondent an aviation safety expert said “GCAS calculates aircraft time to clear obstacles, rather than time to impact. In making its calculations, GCAS demands no more than 0.5 g manoeuvre, 75 per cent airframe load limit and 90 per cent take-off power. Modes of operation include: Collision Prediction and Alerting (CPA); true look-ahead capability based on predicted aircraft flight path and knowledge of terrain environment”.

“From incidences of the past two week, it has come into view that NAMA, NCAA and airline operators have again thrown vigilance and safety to the wind. If this goes on unchecked; it is only time that separates Nigeria and another plane crash. I think it's especially important [now] to be vigilant about air safety,” he said

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