Dana Air Crash: Flight Data Recorder is destroyed-AIB

Channels Television  
Updated August 6, 2012

The Director of Engineering with the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Emmanuel Dialla has revealed that the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), an essential component of the Dana Air plane, has been destroyed by post-crash inferno.

Mr Dialla who continued his testimony on Monday told the Coroner inquiring into the cause of death of the 153 persons on the Dana Air Crash of June 3rd, that the recorder was burnt due to the failure of extinguishing the post-crash inferno that lasted for 24hours.

This claim heightened concerns at the proceedings of the Coroner’s inquest in Lagos where Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe is presiding.

The AIB which is statutorily empowered to investigate air crashes had earlier tendered its preliminary report to the Coroner.

According to the AIB Engineer, the tail section of the plane, which houses the FDR and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), was part of the 15 per cent of the plane recovered from the accident site.

The FDR is an electronic device that  records instructions sent to any electronic system on an aircraft, while the CVR is an electronic device which records conversations between the cabin crew and the Air Traffic Controller.

Mrs. Funmi Falana of Falana and Falana Chambers, the law firm which initiated the inquest, while cross-examining Mr. Dialla, wondered why the FDR designed to be fire-proof was burnt.

The witness replied that “the FDR is designed to withstand heat at 1,000’C for 30 minutes, but in this case, the fire was on for about 24 hours.”

A retired pilot, Captain Paul Porbeni, also asked Mr. Dialla, how the AIB was able to arrive at a finding when the FDR could not be analysed.

But Mr. Dialla said “this was deduced from the 31-minute CVR recording of the conversation between the pilot and the first Officer.”

Responding to further questions, Mr. Dialla dismissed claims that the pilot was not qualified to fly the plane because he (the pilot) did not obtain Airline Transport Pilot Licence Rating in the MD-83 plane, the model of the crashed Dana plane.

Mrs Falana also confronted him with the AIB preliminary report which states, “the Captain, aged 55, held an Airline Transport Pilot license with type ratings in the A-320, DC-90, FK-28, and SF-340.”

But Dialla said, “the pilot would not have been allowed to fly if he did not have the rating. He had over 18,116 hours of total time, including 16,416 hours of pilot-in-command.”

He further adds that the late Pilot had “7,461 hours in the accident model airplane, as Pilot-in-command.” “If he did not have the rating it will be difficult for him to get over 7,000 hours as Pilot-in-command.” “The regulatory bodies would not allow him to fly” Dialla added.

Concerning the technical log book of the plane, Mr. Dialla said it could not be produced as requested by Falana because it was still being used by the AIB for further investigation.

But the Coroner asked the counsel, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, holding brief for the AIB, to produce an extract of the log book relevant to the crashed plane.

The matter has been adjourned till Tuesday to enable technicians attend to an electrical fault in the court which resulted into smoke during the proceedings.