Dana plane crash site
Public angst over the crash of the ill-fated Dana Air flight 9J 0992 on June 3 that killed 153 passengers seems to be influencing action in the aviation sector.
This is so as operators fear that the Panel set up to carry out financial and aircraft audit of existing airlines may recommend the withdrawal of the airworthiness certificate of some ageing aircraft.
The Technical and Administrative Review Panel, which was inaugurated on Monday by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Adaeze Oduah, was given as its terms of reference to thoroughly review the maintenance practices of Dana Airline as well as all other domestic scheduled operators.
The panel is also expected to assess their level of compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations; assess the effectiveness or otherwise of NCAA’s oversight of the maintenance practices of domestic scheduled carriers and other regulatory aspects.
The panel is also to examine the management practices and safety culture existing in Dana Air, and other domestic scheduled flight operators; make bold recommendations to the Federal Government on all of the reference terms above with a view to closing existing gaps that could lead to a reoccurrence of such an accident in future and make any other recommendation that is relevant to the review.
Inside sources told THISDAY Wednesday that, because of the groundswell of opposition over old aircraft because of the crash, the panel may recommend to the Federal Government that all aircraft up to 15 years should be withdrawn from service “and that will see to the withdrawal of over 50 per cent of the aircraft that operate scheduled flights in Nigeria today.”
This is believed to have adverse effect on domestic airline operations and there would be high demand for flights while fewer airlines would be offering services; a situation that will jack up air fares and give rise to the scramble of the past.
But some operators believe that while old aircraft is not safety risk, inadequate maintenance may jeopardise flight operations.
Chairman of Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim on Tuesday said in Lagos that though nothing is wrong with the panel constituted by the Federal Government to review domestic airlines operations, he further clarified that double checks on the operations of aircraft operating in the country would improve air safety.
He stated that the federal government should make it compulsory for every indigenous carrier to become members of IATA so that the airlines could be audited by both NCAA and the international air transport body.
“I think the Federal Government should make it compulsory for domestic airlines to be IATA members, so that they could be subjected to both IATA and NCAA audits. This will ensure that all the checks attain global compliance. There would have been more accidents if not for the regulatory functions of the NCAA”, he said.
He remarked that though nothing was unusual about the age of aircraft operating in the country, but said older aircraft constitute higher challenges because of the frequency of maintenance, and frowned at a situation where operators utilise very old aircraft, which he described as ‘Grand Papa aircraft’.