AIB, Air Peace Spat over Hard Landing

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AIB

Chinedu Eze

There has been mixed reaction over the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB)’s alleged infraction by Air Peace for not reporting an incident involving its flight’s hard landing incident.

The Bureau’s allegation suggested that the airline wanted to hide the incident even when it reported to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which regulates the industry, the company that manufactured the aircraft, Boeing and the engine manufacturers, CPM International.

“The Accident Investigation Bureau wishes to express its displeasure over the persistent failure of some airlines to report accidents or serious incidents to the Bureau as mandated by Law.

“On the 5th of June 2019, the Bureau received notification about a serious incident involving a Boeing 737-300 aircraft with registration marks 5N-BUK, belonging to Air Peace Limited from a passenger onboard. It was reported that the said incident occurred on Wednesday, 15th May 2019, while the aircraft was on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt. The aircraft was said to have experienced a hard landing as it touched down on the runway (18R),” the Bureau said.

It also noted that Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006, which is the Act establishing the Bureau, “confers the prerogative to determine the classification of an accident or serious incidents on the Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria. All Airlines are therefore enjoined to report these occurrences at all times.”

It went further to describe the incident as “a high probability of an accident” when no one was injured and no major damage was done on the aircraft, as industry observers noted that an example of an accident is if a passenger sustains an injury in an incident or when there is major damage to the aircraft.

According to industry experts who spoke to THISDAY, nobody sustained any injury in the incident and the aircraft did not suffer any major damage, so it was wrong for AIB to suggest that it was an accident.

Reacting to the allegation, Air Peace management disagreed with the contents of the statement released by the AIB, suggesting that the airline had consistently failed to file Mandatory Occurrence Report (MOR), on incidents involving its aircraft.

In a statement signed by the airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Toyin Olajide, Air Peace expressed the doubt whether the statement issued by AIB was done in good faith because it was a misrepresentation of facts concerning the incident in question.

“In the night of May 15, 2019, an Air Peace Boeing 737-300 with registration number 5N – BUK made a hard landing in Lagos on account of sudden change in weather at the point of touch down.

“But AIB grossly misrepresented the facts when it alluded that the airline only reported the incident, after the Bureau’s team visited its corporate headquarters in Lagos on June 6, 2019, which was about three weeks after the incident occurred.

“Contrary to the press statement issued by the AIB, Air Peace duly notified the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of the incident on May 16, 2019, before it followed up with a written communication and subsequently filed an MOR on May 17, 2019, with reference number APL/QM/279/19.

“The said MOR filed by the airline was received and signed for by the NCAA on the same date. The airline complied with the statutory time-lime for the filing of MOR,” the management said.
The airline said it was still in shock over the deliberate misrepresentation of facts by the AIB, and questioned the motive behind the press statement.

Air Peace wondered if AIB’s statement was, “intended to scare the flying public against an airline that has consistently demonstrated zero tolerance for unsafe practices.”

The airline also expressed surprise at AIB’s “dredging” up of the incident, which occurred on December 14, 2018, en route Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, when oxygen masks were automatically deployed as a result of change in cabin pressure, noting that matters related to masks dropping during flight is not peculiar to Air Peace, but common to airlines the world over.

“Air Peace questions if it is not an aberration for an Accident Investigation Bureau to do acts capable of not only misleading the flying public, but also deliberately creating unnecessary fear in their minds”, adding that it was smokescreen for AIB to say that some other airlines do not report their incidents without naming those airlines.

Reacting to the controversy, a senior official in NCAA said ideally the airline should have reported the matter to AIB but noted that if the regulatory authority and the Bureau are working harmoniously together, such infractions would not exist because the agencies would share such information that are appropriate to them immediately the report comes.
“But instead of working harmoniously with NCAA, there is always a seeming animosity between the two agencies and there are occasions AIB had indicted NCAA for not implementing its recommendation, even when the regulatory authority insisted that one of the recommendations made by the Bureau was not implementable. Perhaps, AIB was miffed that Air Peace reported the incident first to NCAA,” the official said.