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Nigeria investigators release reports of air crashes

Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released the report of eight air crashes dating back to 2005, with a number of safety recommendations to prevent a recurrence.

The reports released on Saturday include those of the Bellview and ADC airlines’ crashes that killed a total of 213 people in 2005 and 2006, as well as minor crashes involving six other aircraft.

Bellview Airlines’s Boeing 737 plane crashed 22 Oct 2005 shortly after taking off from the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos en route the inland capital city of Abuja, killing all 117 people on board.

The investigators said they could not recover the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of the Bellview crash in Lisa, South-west Ogun state, hence were unable use conclusive evidence to explain the cause of the accident.

However, the report said the Bellview plane was defective and should not have been released to fly.

It also blamed the regulatory Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for not providing adequate safety oversight, noted that the training of the pilot-in-command before taking command of the Boeing 737 aircraft was inadequate, and said the cumulative flight hours of the pilot in the days before the accident showed that excessive workload could have led to fatigue.

But the AIB said the absence of forensic evidence prevented the determination of the captain’s medical condition at the time of the accident.

“AIB examined the contents of the technical logbook from the period the airplane came back from the ‘C’ check (maintenance). The examination revealed multiple defects on the airplane that were not properly attended to. The technical logbook did not provide information concerning the effectiveness of each action taken against the associated defects,” it said.

On the ADC Boeing 737 aircraft that crashed 29 Oct 2006, shortly after taking off from Abuja to the northern city of Sokoto with 105 people on board (only nine people survived), the AIB blamed the crash on pilot error and lack of airline policy on how to operate a flight during adverse weather condition.

It said the ”causal factors” include the pilot’s decision to take-off in known adverse weather conditions and failure to execute the proper wind shear recovery procedure that resulted in operating the aircraft outside the safe flight regime and caused the aircraft to stall very close to the ground from which recovery was not possible.

It listed ”contributory factors” as including inability of the flight crew to apply wind shear recovery procedures and the use of inappropriate equipment for wind shear recovery procedure during simulator recurrrency.

“The coordination of responsibilities between the pilot-flying and pilot not flying during their encounter with adverse weather situation was inconsistent with Standard Operating Procedures for the duties of the pilot-flying and pilot not flying resulting in the inadequate control of the aircraft,” it said.

Among those killed in the ADC plane crash was the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido.

The safety recommendations made by the bureau on the crashes include that the NCAA should ensure that same instructor does not conduct any training and at the same time be the check airman; and that NCAA should increase the monitoring of the quality and content of flight crew training.

NCAA was also asked to ensure that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency expedites actions on the completion of the on going installation of Low Level Windshear Alert Systems at all airports to enhance the quality of weather information obtained.

The crashes forced the Nigerian government to overhaul the country’s aviation sector, leading to several accident-free years until the 2012 crash of the DANA Air’s MD-83 plane near the commercial city of Lagos that killed at least 159 people.

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