An aeronautical engineer, Group Capt. John Obakpolor (rtd), has dismissed the Dana Air crash report released by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), saying it was empty.
“That report is empty. All it just said was general; all it read was a prose. It is not a report coming out of an investigation,” Obakpolor said.
According to him, it is public knowledge that the aircraft crashed because of engine failure. Therefore, what the investigation and its report should have focused on was what transpired between the time the pilot made contact with the Lagos airport control tower for clearance to land on runway18R and the time it crashed.
‘’That is where the investigation should have started from. The report should have told us why the engine failed, and what made the engine to fail. All the report just told us was that as a result of engine failure the aircraft just crashed. This is totally unacceptable in standard aviation investigation report,” an obviously enraged Obakpolor said in Lagos at the weekend.
Although it was said that the Flight Data Recorder was not retrieved from the crash site, the Cockpit Voice Recorder was found. This, he noted, could have been used by the investigators to probe into what happened between the time the pilot got clearance to land on runway 18R and the time the aircraft crashed.
As the chairman of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the Dana Air crash, Obakpolor said his panel never had access to the aircraft’s log book, which he said would have been made available to the investigators. Therefore, he argued, with the log book, the AIB investigators should be able to know the state of the aircraft engine in terms of its maintenance record.
He asked: “The log book of the aircraft did not crash, so it would have been useful to tell the investigators more. The aircraft engineer was on board the flight to Abuja and also dispatched it to Lagos, So, if the engine had issues the engineer would have known, and if he knew, did he report it upon arrival in Abuja before the ill-fated flight?”
One area Obakpolor, however, agreed with in the report was where it was mentioned passively that the accident occurred due to “bad airmanship.”
This reason, he said, could even have caused the engine to fail. But the report never said something like “the engines were mis handled; just due to engine failure.” This position, the retired AirForce man argued, is vague and devoid of any lessons to be learnt from it.
He said this was unlike the report submitted by his Administrative Panel, which noted that the pilot should not have been scheduled to operate the flight because he had a flight to catch that night to go out of the country for issues relating to his licence.
“So he must fly out that night. So for him, anything that would disrupt him flying out of Nigeria that day was not an option for him. This may explain why he did not make an air return to Abuja or to Minna or even Ibadan; so he must get to Lagos,” Obakpolor explained.
This factor, he revealed, made the panel to submit that airlines should get psychologists involved in cabin crew roaster preparation. This will help them know the state of mind of their crew before any flight.