Days after Dana Air’s Flight 0992 crashed in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos state, killing all 153 passengers on board, the management of the airline has come out to refute alleged claims of negligence.
The managing director of the company, Mr Jacky Haithiramani at a press conference on Thursday, explained that regular checks are usually carried out on the airline’s fleet before being certified fit to fly and the MD 83 aircraft was not left out.
Mr Haithiramani refuted the claim that the ill-fated plane had faults and was grounded in Calabar, adding that the airline’s engineer also died in the accident, thereby ruling out the allegation that the aircraft was not certified to fly.
Dana Air’s MD 83 crashed into a residential building in Lagos on Sunday, 4 nautical miles to the local wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, killing 153 people on board and 10 on the ground
A very emotional Haithiramani, shed tears as he reeled out the names of the late pilot of the flight and cabin crew members, claiming the airline was a united team. “We all knew them so well”he siad as he tried holding back his tears, as he promised that the company will do its best to support their families as much as possible.
The airline’s management explained that the plane that was grounded in Calabar was not the same Flight 0991. According to the airline’s Director of Flight of Operations, Captain Oscar Wason-who was also present at the press conference-the aircraft that was grounded in Calabar is now in Lagos, undergoing a proper repair.
Debunking claims that the crashed MD 83 had earlier had an emergency landing in Uyo, Captain Wason explained that “this aircraft (MD 83) was not the one that had technical mal-function in Uyo or was grounded” he claimed, adding that “two days prior to the crash, the aircraft was in one of its scheduled maintenace, called A-checks and thereafter the aircraft was cleared for flights.”
“The previous aircraft that everybody has referred to, that declared emergency landing is a different aircraft, which is 5NSRI and that aircraft is momentarily in Istanbul, going throught its annunal compulsory C-check” he stated.
Captain Wason also claimed that the late pilot of the ill-fated plane never spoke with the Lagos Control Tower before the fatal crash.
This is coming amidst reports that the dead pilot, Peter Waxton, spoke with air traffic controllers in the Lagos Control Tower and declared ‘May-day’ emergency, before the crash.
“The captain did not have a chance to talk to the Lagos Control Tower. He was talking to the radar control. He was released from the radar control to Control Tower, but he never made the call” he said.
“He indicated to the radar he had an engine failure. But the only conclusion we can come to at this point in time is that he reported that he had an engine failure.
“Investigation will show exactly what really happened. Two minutes after he reported, then the aircraft disappeared from the radar, then the crash.”
When asked why the pilot was not communicating with the Lagos Control Tower before the crash at about three to four minutes to the runway, he replied “at this point the investigation will prove that. I don’t know, but he was probably handed over late to the Control Tower.”
Admitting that the ill-fated aircraft reported engine failure, Watson stated that it will be premature to conclude that its two engines were lost before the crash.
N50 million daily
Meanwhile, Dana Air has stated that it will be losing N50 million daily with the grounding of its operations in the aftermath of Sunday’s crash. The federal government on Tuesday withdrew the operating license of the airline until further notice.
Captain Wason gave the figure at a joint press conference by the firm and Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Thursday, where he revealed that the airline will be losing 2,000 passengers and N50 million daily due to the suspension of its operations.
According to him, the loss would amount to N1.5 billion in a month.
He however, confirmed that Dana Air’s insurer, Lloyds of London, is capable of paying the families of the crash victims $30,000 (N4.6 million) within the first 30 days of the accident.