CEO, Dana Air, Jacky Hathiramani
Chief Executive Officer of Dana Air, Jacky Hathiramani, spoke with Chinedu Eze on why the airline chose MD80s aircraft for commercial operation, among other issues. Excerpts:
Compensation for Victims’ Relatives
We have been making several arrangements for those displaced at the site as well as the injured at the hospital. We have been making our visits everyday and we have been providing relief materials and assured them temporary accommodation if necessary.
Concerning the families who lost their beloved ones, we have been involved at the General Hospital, LASU (Lagos State University Teaching Hospital). We have been trying to make things as easy as possible for them.
Many were concerned about the delivery of the bodies, so our focus and priority have been on that; because it has been very difficult for identification of the bodies. There is also DNA profiling going on; we are assisting as much as possible with all of that, and in terms of any other obligation. Of course no one can put any value on someone’s life, but obviously there are insurance policies in place and they are fully available for the families and all that.
Controversy over Claims
There is minimum requirement and we are guided by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for an advance to be paid and that will be done within 30 days and the rest will come after that. The 30 per cent of the total sum that will be paid within 30 days is $30,000 (about N4.83 million).
It is not always an easy situation at a time like this; people don’t like to come forward
immediately and also there is a lot of documentary requirements in terms of identification, photographs, marriage certificates and so on.
Dana Air Choice of MD80 Aircraft
At the time we were starting up we studied the market very carefully. We looked at successful business models internationally. We particularly looked towards the United States of America where they have the biggest feet in the world and also the best safety record in the world.
We were guided by a lot of experts and consultants that for a start of an airline the MD 80 was the best. You will be able to see it if you go online and check them. In the history of MD80s they have had a minimum number of accidents thereby making the model one of the safest aircraft in the world. It is very important to note that MD80 has very high safety record. It is one of the safest aircraft in the world.
Reaction to Withdrawal of Operating Certificate
We are guided by NCAA and they provide airlines with all the maintenance requirements, which we have always adhered to and they as the guiding authority will have to decide the way to treat the situation.
On Monday, June 4 a decision was taken by Dana Air management not to operate any scheduled flights as a mark of respect to the victims of the crash and their families. We have not only lost some loyal and valued guests of our airline, but some our finest and most dedicated staff too.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of the deceased in these difficult times, and we will continue to do everything possible to assist them. Dana Air’s operations were subsequently grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
We understand that this is standard procedure following an aircraft accident, and we are cooperating fully with the NCAA as they perform checks on our operations. We hope to quickly and conclusively demonstrate to them the paramount importance we place on safety, and how a safety-first culture is at the heart of our airline.
Allegations on Maintenance, Cutting Corners
We never exceed maintenance dates; on the contrary, we do pre-emptive maintenance. For example, the main check that airlines go through, A checks and C Checks, for example, A check is due on every 450 hours but our last A check on the aircraft was even under 400 hours.
So we don’t wait for the last date; we always do our checks in advance. Even the C checks that are normally done every 15 months or 3600 hours, but sometimes we do the check earlier.
Over-flogging of Aircraft to Meet Schedule
It is not true that the aircraft was over flogged. We fly for about five and half to six hours a day. On average we have four aircraft; we have two aircraft on C checks overseas. Whenever we want to exceed our schedule we meet our agents for more aircraft. And overall, we were doing about 150 hours a month on each aircraft, it is not much.
So we do not over flog the aircraft. There are airlines that go up to 180 hours or 200 hours a month on each aircraft. In fact, we are underutilising our aircraft; we don’t over-utilise them. Let us look at the controversy of the age of your aircraft.
Aircraft Age and Need for Maintenance
Age of the aircraft is not an issue because there is prescribed line maintenance; daily checks, routine checks, A checks, C checks. The C checks, for example is provided by MRO (Maintenance, Repair Organisation) from overseas, My Technic in Turkey.
Half of the MD80 aircraft in the world are operated by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. They may still have about 400 between the two of them. In fact, America Airlines are still buying MD aircraft for their fleet. And even in America there is no age limit for an aircraft to operate.
We have experts from the engineering field from America. The same Americans that are servicing the aircraft are also here. In terms of maintenance we are not doing anything different from other airlines overseas.
Compensation Agreement with Insurers
We will pay $30,000 within the first 30 days to the relations of the deceased; the rest of the $100,000 will be paid after documentary evidence is provided. Our insurance company, Lloyd of London came here last week and they have started off the process already.
We have earmarked two crisis management centres. One will be at the domestic terminal, MMA2 of the Lagos airport, while the other will be at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. Both of these crisis management centres will be used to attend to the families to provide the
required documents for the insurance company.
I will like to commiserate with all Nigerians for this tragedy. Our hearts go to all the families. We sympathise with them for the loss of their loved ones. I want them to know that we shall get to the bottom of it. The investigations are underway by AIB (Accident Investigation Bureau) and NSTB (National Transport Safety Board of US).
We are eager to know the cause of the accident and once we find we will let you know. We will like to thank Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos state for providing all the logistics; for Mr. President for all his support; in fact, he was one of the first persons to visit the place and the Minister of Aviation.
We will like to thank them for their exemplary leadership. We are not concerned about commercial issues now. The only objective now is with the family of those who died. We want to make sure we deliver the bodies in time. We want everything to be done correctly and we are also mourning with families of the loved ones on board the aircraft. We want to make sure we fulfil all our legal obligations before moving forward. So we have not thought about anything else apart from dealing with this.
Profile of Affected Aircraft
The Boeing MD83 aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, is 22 years old. It had flown 60,846 hours and made 35,219 landings. The aircraft has been maintained correctly and fully in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedule and directives from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. The aircraft entered service with Dana Air in March 2009.
Staff Allegation on Service-ability of Concerned Aircraft
The allegations are totally false and baseless. At Dana Air, the safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance and we adhere strictly to the maintenance schedule of all our aircraft as prescribed by the manufacturer and NCAA. The aircraft involved in the accident had its last 400-hourly check (A-Check) on 30th May, 2012.
The statutory annual maintenance (C-Check) is not due until September 2012. The Certificate of Airworthiness issued by the NCCA after the last C-Check was completely valid as at the time of the incident. This is not the same aircraft that had the hydraulic pressure issue that has been referred to in some media reports.
Each aircraft is identified by its registration number and, while the aircraft that operated that flight had Reg. No. 5N-SRI, this one has Reg. No. 5N-RAM. At Dana Air, safety is paramount. Dana Air has a maintenance agreement with MyTechnic - an international, world-class aviation maintenance organisation which is located at our Lagos base.
It performs and supervises all local maintenance tasks including the daily servicing and release of our aircraft for operations. Our heavy scheduled maintenance checks (i.e. C-checks) are done by leading MRO companies overseas.
Biodata of Hathiramani
Chief Executive Officer, Dana Air, Jacky Hathiramani was born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. He attended Onireke Primary School in Ibadan and Corona in Lagos before
proceeding to the United Kingdom where he graduated with honours in Business Administration from the European Business School of London.
Mr. Hathiramani is happily married to Amisha and they are blessed with a son.