Any aviation industry observer who is paying attention would notice the slant in which Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has reacted to the incidents involving Air Peace on July 23, 2019, when the aircraft nose wheel collapsed on landing at the Runway 18R at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
It was the same day that Medview Airline flight from Abuja to Lagos suffered depressurisation incident but this was not reported by AIB, rather, it concentrated on Air Peace only to issue a statement on the incident the following day.
In the statement issued by AIB on Medview, the Bureau did not say the airline had pressurisation incident, although it described it as major incident. It was Medview Airline in its own statement made it clear that it was depressurisation. Depressurisation is the reduction of air pressure in the cabin of an aircraft. Sudden depressurisation can result from a failure in the pressurisation system, a structural failure or can be initiated deliberately by a crewmember of the aircraft.
Below is the press statement issued by AIB on Medview:
“The Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria has been notified that an aircraft operated by Med-View Nigeria Limited, Boeing 737-500 with registration marks 5N-BQM was involved in a serious incident en-route Lagos from Abuja on the 23rd July, 2019 at about 3:07p.m. local time with 27 passengers and six (6) crew members on board. There was no fatality.
“From the information gathered so far, cabin altitude warning came ON at FL 320 followed by deployment of oxygen masks, which necessitated the crew to carry out emergency descent procedure.
“Our team of safety investigators has commenced investigation .
“As the investigating agency, AIB needs and hereby solicits for your assistance. We want the public to know that we would be amenable to receiving any video clip, relevant evidence, or information any members of the public may have of the accident; that can assist us with this investigation.”
Below is the statement issued by Medview Airline on the incident:
“Medview Airline said its flight VL2105 was on its way to Lagos about 1510p.m. on Tuesday when the Captain noticed a warning sign of cabin depressurisation while descending from 32000ft altitude.
“He quickly briefed the passengers and he referred to his checklist and applied the necessary procedure to mitigate the situation.
“The oxygen masks dropped and were in good working condition for the passengers’ usage.
“The Captain called for priority landing because he had been on number 7 on the queue.
“He was obliged and he made a safe landing and the passengers were calm as it did not pose a serious danger.
“The incident promptly reported to the authority and investigation is ongoing.
“The situation was professionally handled according to required operational standard procedures.”
Medview correctly noted that it was depressurisation incident, but AIB failed to identify that; rather, it talked about cabin altitude warning. It is also worth noting that the incident happened the same day that of Air Peace incident also happened but neither AIB nor Medview reported it.
Another issue to point out that while issues concerning Air Peace is being drummed everywhere; there is silence on the issue concerning Medview.
It is also worth noting that when the depressurisation incident happened to Air Peace flight the video was circulated everywhere and even AIB, which is silent on the Medview incident ensured that it was circulated in the industry.
It is also worth noting that it is the same depressurisation incident that happened to Air Peace last year, which was celebrated in the media that also happened to Medview on July 23, which AIB is not giving the same severity of comment and which people seem to be glossing over.
Such unfair treatment cannot serve the aviation industry well but it is an indication of bias and with those incidents involving favoured airlines be kept from public view while that of the other airline could be exaggerated, which is what has been happening for some time now.
But the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be commended for the mature way it is attending to these issues. It does its work without media visibility and it is obviously neutral from the way it conducts itself. The Director-General has shown that so much could be done in silence in an industry that is safety and security-sensitive, which detests noise making.
––Ngwuli writes from Lagos.