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THE immediate past Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Captain Adebayo Araba, has said that the age of an aircraft goes a long way in determining its safety level especially in the country where operators toy with regular maintenance of their airplanes.
He also hoped that the Cockpit Data Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder of the crashed Dana aircraft were serviceable at the time of crash, warning that if not, it would be practically impossible for investigators to tell the public the cause of the accident.
Speaking in Lagos, Araba noted that an operator who could not afford to buy a brand new aircraft would not be able to maintain a used aircraft, saying that it was more expensive to maintain an old aircraft than new ones.
He explained that the cutting corners allegations against the airline operators began when owners of old aircraft could not maintain their fleet, decrying that since the country started recording accidents, no one had been brought to book.
He however explained that older aircraft were still flying in countries like United States and United Kingdom, but emphasised that their governments were strict with maintenance of the airplanes.
He said, “Let me ask you a question, why do you buy a used car if you want to buy a car? It is because you don’t have enough money to buy a new one. Then, you cut your coat according to your size, but aeroplane is quite different. Anybody that cannot afford to buy a brand new aeroplane and is chopping around for a used aeroplane, wants something at a give-away price.
“I will tell you this; and I can tell this to anybody that such a person cannot maintain that aeroplane because the cost of maintenance of an old aeroplane is much higher than that of a new aeroplane. This is where cutting corners come in. You want to make money at the expense of lives of the people and once there is a crash, nobody talks, the country moves on.
“In America, even 25 or 30 years old aircraft are still flying, but you better be sure you are doing the right thing or else, you will find yourself behind bars. I don’t support the use of old airplanes for our industry. Somebody that cannot pay salaries, do you think such a person can do maintenance?”, he queried.
Araba hoped that the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder of the crashed Dana Air were still serviceable as at the time it crashed for the accident investigator to get at least 30 minutes of recorded events before the crash.
He lamented how those without tangible business at the crash site encroached the site immediately the accident occurred, stressing that crucial information that would have been useful to investigators were completely contaminated.
“Hardly can you get anything meaningful from the crash site that could lead to the probable cause of the crash.
There was complete contamination. The only thing as I speak now is the FDR and CVR evidences. If that plane flew that day without a serviceable FDR and CVR, we are completely at a lost. That means nobody will be able to tell exactly what really went wrong with that aeroplane.”
On the call for the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, to step aside, Araba said he was not sure if it was in their purview to do so, but noted that in case of an air crash, it is wrong for people to give probable cause of accident until the investigators concluded their findings.
He posited that the crash had turned some people without experience in the sector into experts overnight while the real experts had kept mute waiting for the outcome of investigations by Accident Investigators Bureau.Share