Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nigerian government suspends Dana Air indefinitely

The Federal Government has suspended the operating licence of Dana Airlines "as a precaution" following last Sunday's crash which claimed over 160 lives, including tenants of a residential building.

Meanwhile, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) will this week send a team of its investigators to the United States with the recovered Flight Data Recorder (FDR), also known as the "Black Box", for further analysis.

The Black Box, an electronic device, is used to record any instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft.

The device records specific aircraft performance parameters, while the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) records the radio conversation between the cockpit crew and others, including the air traffic control personnel.

The data recorded by the FDR is used for accident investigation. It is also used for analysing air safety issues, material degradation and engine performance.

The captain of the ill-fated Dana 992 flight was said to have complained about engine problems and requested emergency landing but could not make it to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos State.

It crashed on a two-storey building at Iju-Ishaga, Agege area of the state, after losing control with the control tower.

THISDAY learnt that already, the conversations on the CVR are being transcribed at a secure location in the country and the investigative team will travel with the recovered materials to the US "before weekend", according to aviation sources.

Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, Tuesday evening said the Federal Government suspended the operating licence of Dana Airlines "for safety reasons".

Speaking on the telephone with THISDAY in Abuja, the Special Assistant to the Minister on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Joe Obi, said: "The decision to suspend the airline for now even though investigation has commenced is for safety and precautionary reason."

While the minister did not specify how long the suspension would take, she said government had the primary duty of ensuring safety of its citizens, provided it was done in the general interest of the country.

The Senate had earlier demanded the immediate suspension of the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, and other top officials of aviation regulatory agency to allow for an unfettered investigation into the crash.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly had also urged the NCAA to immediately ground all planes in the fleet of Dana Airlines operating in the country pending the outcome of the investigation into the mishap.

At the end of the heated debate, the Senate directed its Committee on Aviation to jointly sit with the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to conduct a thorough investigation into the crash.

The joint investigation is also aimed at ascertaining the airworthiness of all aircraft operating in the country to ensure that they conform to global safety standards.

The Senate also directed the Ministry of Aviation to release without any further delay the reports of all previous air mishaps in the country and prosecute all those indicted in the reports.

The Senate President David Mark directed that the resolutions of the motion should be communicated to the Presidency without delay.

Also Tuesday, the House of Representatives vented their anger and disillusionment on the operators of Dana Airlines over an alleged negligence.

At a stage during the session filled with emotional outbursts, the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, said that there was an overwhelming outcry and demand for thorough investigation of the crash.

He directed the committee on aviation to commence probe of the incident and to unearth all issues that might inhibit the smooth and safe operation of the aviation industry.

This Day

Related stories: Video - Dana Air crash major setback for Nigeria's aviation industry

 President Goodluck Jonathan declares 3 day mourning for victims of Dana Air plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria

Video - All passengers dead in airline that crashed into building in Lagos, Nigeria 

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