Officials Find Body Parts At Indonesian Plane Crash Site

 

Indonesian investigators said Sunday they found body parts off the coast of the capital Jakarta where a budget airline plane with 62 people on board crashed shortly after takeoff.

“As of this morning, we’ve received two (body) bags, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts,” Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV.

Signal from downed plane in Java Sea

Meanwhile, Indonesian rescuers said Sunday they had detected a signal from a Boeing passenger plane that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff with 62 people on board.

A military vessel “has found the signal from (Sriwijaya Air) SJ182” and divers had recovered parts of the plane from around 23 metres (75 feet) below the water’s surface, the transport ministry said in a statement, citing Indonesia’s military chief Hadi Tjahjanto.

The ministry did not specify if the signal was detected from the downed plane’s black box.

COVID-19: FG Approves N5bn Bailout Funds For Airline Operators, Others

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

 

The Federal Government has approved the sum of N5billion as a bailout for airline operators and other business owners in the aviation sector to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the country’s aviation industry.

The announcement was made on Monday by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Minister said the sum of N4billion has been approved as a bailout for airline operators and an additional N1billion for other business owners in the aviation sector.

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Sirika says the government’s decision to offer the bailout is based on recognition of the pivotal role of the aviation sector to the Nigerian economy.

The Minister made the announcement when he appeared at the Senate for a public hearing in respect of the repeal and the reenactment of the laws establishing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The announcement by the Minister comes after the Senate Committee on Aviation called on the Federal government to bail out airlines to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

However, the Chairman of the Senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the amount for the proposed bailout is inadequate for airlines who are battling to survive.

FG Approves Restructuring Of NCAA, Cuts Directorates To Six

FG Sacks Directors Of NCAA
A logo of the NCAA.

 

The Federal Government has approved the restructuring of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the safety oversight agency of the aviation industry in the country.

NCAA Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Captain Musa Nuhu, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday

He explained that the restructuring affected the directorates of the agency – the major organs of the agency.

Nuhu revealed that the directorates which used to been nine have now been cut down to six.

He listed the new and retained directorates to include the Directorate of Airworthiness Standards (DAWS), Directorate of Operations, Licensing and Training (DOLT), and Directorate of Air Transport Regulations (DATR).

Others are Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS), Directorate of Finance and Accounts (DFA), and the Directorate of Human Resources and Administration (DHR&A).

The NCAA boss noted that the Directorate of Consumer Protection (DCP) and Directorate of General Aviation (DGA) have been phased out.

He added that while the former was merged with the DATR, the latter was subsumed under the Directorate of Airworthiness Standards.

According to Nuhu, the government has appointed two new directors to take charge of the Directorates of Airworthiness Standards (DAWS) and Operations, Licensing and Training (DOLT).

“The newly appointed directors, who are aviation professions with several decades of industry experience in their areas of expertise in the aviation industry, are Engineer Kayode Ajiboye for DAWS and Captain Elisha Bahago for DOLT,” the statement said.

The NCAA boss stated that the approved restructuring was aimed at repositioning the agency for effective and efficient service delivery.

He said it was also to entrench a robust safety oversight system, in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and recommended practices, while enabling the regulatory body to resolve current and emerging challenges facing the industry.

International Flights May Resume Before October – Sirika

Air Peace Aircraft Collide At Lagos Airport
A file photo of a Nigerian Airline, Air Peace.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday, said international flights in and out of the country may resume before October.

Sirika revealed this in a tweet while dismissing reports the resumption date has been set.

International flights have been suspended in the country since March 23 in a bid to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Domestic flights were also suspended but have since resumed in June as the country tries to roll back coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

“International Flight resumption date is not October,” Sirika said. “NAMA just issued a routine 90 day Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).

“In liaison with Health, Foreign Affairs & PTF COVID-19, we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, UAE etc. May be earlier than October.”

Be At Airport 90 Minutes Before Departure, FG Tells Travellers

(File Photo) The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika gives a press conference during a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing.

 

The Federal Government has asked air travellers to report at the airport at least 90 minutes before their departure time.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this call on Monday via Twitter.

Sirika also appealed to air travellers to endeavour to check-in online.

“My colleagues and I have reviewed passenger facilitation at our airports, consequently I am happy to announce that, henceforth travellers are to arrive one hour and a half before their departure time for domestic flights,” the tweet read.

This development comes a month after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) advised passengers to get to the airport at least three hours before departure due to safety checks.

Airport operations were suspended in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

READ ALSO: FG Releases Guidelines For Safe Reopening Of Schools After COVID-19 Pandemic Closures

On July 1, Sirika announced that the Abuja and Lagos airports will resume on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports will reopen on July 11.

Other airports are expected to reopen on Wednesday 15 July while the resumption date for international flights will be announced later.

Domestic Aviation Services To Resume As Soon As Practicable

A file photo of the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu.

 

Domestic aviation service operators have been granted permission to resume operations as soon as practicable.

This is according to the national coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Sani Aliyu.

Making clarifications during the PTF briefing on Monday, Mr. Aliyu also noted that while the current curfew will remain, the Federal Government has lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.

Mr Aliyu who was expatiating on a brief made by the chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, further revealed that students in graduating classes will be allowed to resume as part of plans for the second phase of eased lockdown.

He, however, warned that the use of face masks will be strictly enforced, stressing that those without masks will not be granted entry into government and commercial premises.

Aviation Minister Lists Conditions For Reopening Of Domestic Flights

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika on Monday listed some conditions which are currently being considered before the final reopening of domestic flights following weeks of lockdown.

Sirika listed the conditions during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He said following the directive of the Federal Government for domestic flights to prepare to resume operations June 21, technical and health factors will be considered.

READ ALSO: Domestic Flights May Resume June 21 – FG

“Regarding the tentative date for reopening of domestic flights from 21st of June, the explanation is that, this is an industry that is highly regulated, it borders on safety and efficiency.

“On the technical aspect, there are aircraft that have been parked for a few months and not been run. We want to ensure that between now and that time, these aeroplanes are good and safe to fly.

“The maintenance for aircraft is either usage or calendar time and there are protocols to the use of such aircraft. So, the airline industry needs to be able to bring those machines to safe operations,” he said.

Sirika added that on the issue of flight crews and carrier crew, efforts are being made to ensure that they get their licence valid again for operations.

He noted further that the medical aspect also needs to be considered as every pilot has a licence which must state that he is fit and able to carry out operations.

According to the Aviation Minister, even the airport needs to be prepared to adopt the new way of life which must reflect social distancing.

“Even the airport where all of these activities will be done needs to be prepared to get ready to accept this new way of air travel,” Sirika said.

The Minister concluded that, although the aviation sector is the worst hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, caution must be taken to ensure reopening in a very orderly and organised manner, “so that we will achieve the intent and purpose of air travel which is safety, efficiency and security.”

Singapore Airlines Reports Nearly $150 Million Virus Loss

Singapore Airlines reported an annual loss of almost $150 million Thursday, driven by the collapse in air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the latest sign of the outbreak’s devastating impact on the aviation sector.

The airline group – which includes subsidiaries SilkAir and Scoo – suffered a net loss of Sg$212 million (US$148 million) for the financial year that ended on March 31, compared to a profit of Sg$683 million last year.

The city-state’s flag carrier lost Sg$732 million in the fourth quarter, mainly due to a reduction in passenger revenue as the virus crisis exploded.

“Fears about the spread of the virus, as well as global travel restrictions and border controls, led to a collapse in the demand for air travel during the quarter,” the airline said in its financial report.

Read Also: Nigerian Airlines Lose N17bn Monthly To COVID-19 – Sirika

The recent collapse in oil prices also led to Sg$710 million of fuel hedging losses in the fourth quarter.

Singapore Airlines cut passenger capacity by 96 percent from April to June and grounded most of its fleet as people stopped flying due to the pandemic.

The airline’s majority shareholder, state investment fund Temasek, has thrown its weight behind a rescue package to help the carrier weather the pandemic.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion of revenue this year.

The trade body said last month that global air traffic suffered a 52.9 per cent drop in March compared with the same period last year – the “largest decline in recent history” – due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

COVID-19: We’ve Denied Several Governors Flight Requests, Says Aviation Minister

A file photo of aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.
A file photo of aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the ministry has denied the flight requests of several governors, since the closure of the airports and the lockdown order by President Muhammadu Buhari as a result of the COVID-19.

He said this on Tuesday during the briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, while responding to questions about some ongoing flights.

The minister also stressed that governors are not exempt from the lockdown and no-flight orders.

According to him, 98% of any ongoing flights, are either essential flights relating to the COVID-19, or repatriation requests.

“Every single flight that you would see, every single flight that we would approve would be an essential flight and 98% of them would be connected to COVID-19,” he said.

“A few others, maybe 1% might be either a repatriation request from a diplomatic community which must go through foreign affairs or it might be repatriation due to illness of another kind.

“And those repatriations will also need the stamp of a teaching hospital.

“There is no exception to governors. I had denied several of such flights, including two governors from south-south and two from the south east and by the way, three of them are members of the APC and I think one is from north-central.

“Once you see a flight approved, it is diligently done and it must be essential, COVID-19-related or some other flights like essential cargo that would bring in medicines or equipment or something related to our well being like food,” Sirika added.

Malaysia Suspected MH370 Downed In Murder-Suicide – Former Australian PM

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 7, 2015 shows Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creating a sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Puri beach in eastern Odisha state.
J .K. Jagdev / AFP

 

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has claimed “very top” level Malaysian officials believed vanished Flight MH370 was deliberately downed by the captain in a mass murder-suicide.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 people — mostly from China — en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square kilometre (46,000-square mile) Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led search, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January 2017.

A US exploration firm launched a private hunt in 2018 but it ended after several months of scouring the seabed without success.

The disappearance of the plane has long been the subject of a host of theories — ranging from the credible to outlandish — including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue.

In an excerpt from a Sky News documentary airing Wednesday, Abbott claims he was told within a week of it vanishing that Malaysia believed the captain had intentionally downed the jet.

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“My very clear understanding from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on here, they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” he said.

“I’m not going to say who said what to whom but let me reiterate, I want to be absolutely crystal clear, it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder-suicide by the pilot — mass murder-suicide by the pilot.”

Zaharie’s family and friends have long strongly rejected such claims as baseless.

Malaysia’s former premier Najib Razak, who was in power during the tragedy, said suspicions over the disappearance weren’t made public and there was no proof that the pilot was responsible.

“It would have been deemed unfair and legally irresponsible since the black boxes and cockpit voice recorders had not been found,” he told online portal Free Malaysia Today.

“There was no conclusive proof whether the pilot was solely or jointly responsible.”

Najib said the scenario involving the pilot was “never ruled out” during the search for the plane.

Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the former head of Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator, criticised Abbott’s remarks and said there was not sufficient proof to support the idea.

“It is only a theory,” Azharuddin, who led the regulator when Flight MH370 disappeared, told AFP.

“You do this speculation and it will hurt the next of kin. The family of the pilot will also feel very bad because you are making an accusation without any proof.”

In 2016, Malaysian officials revealed the pilot had plotted a path over the Indian Ocean on a home flight simulator but stressed this did not prove he deliberately crashed the plane.

A final report into the tragedy released in 2018 pointed to failings by air traffic control and said the course of the plane was changed manually.

But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving relatives angry and disappointed.

Six passengers were Australian, including four from Queensland state, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week suggested authorities may pursue an inquest into their deaths.

Mid-Air Plane Collision Kills Four In Australia

Scene of the crash. Credit: 9News.

 

Four people were killed in a mid-air collision between two light planes in Australia on Wednesday, scattering debris across a rural area north of Melbourne.

Police said the two twin-engined aircraft were each carrying a pilot and a passenger when they crashed around 4,000 feet (1,200) above the town of Mangalore.

Images from the crash scene on the ground showed twisted metal and chunks of fuselage scattered in a field and among trees.

Police said both planes were flying legally in the area but investigations were ongoing.

“We’re not sure why both aircraft were exactly on the same trajectory or why they were in that area but unfortunately they have collided mid-air,” Police Inspector Peter Koger said.

One aircraft had just taken off from the nearby airfield but the other plane’s origin was still unclear, he added.

Three Dead, Scores Hurt, In Turkey Plane Accident

 

Three people have died and 179 were injured when a plane skidded off the runway at an Istanbul airport, caught fire and split into three after landing in rough weather.

Live images broadcast on Turkish television showed several people climbing through a large crack in the severed aircraft and escaping onto one of the wings at the rear.

The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had flown into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the Aegean port city of Izmir on Wednesday, NTV television reported.

The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

Three Turks were killed and 179 injured, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters.

“Some passengers evacuated the plane by themselves but others are stuck inside and our rescuers are working to free them,” Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said on CNN-Turk television.

The plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, state news agency Anadolu said, revising the previous total given by Turkish authorities. Turkish media reports said there were 12 children on board.

Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said the plane “slid some 60 metres (200 feet)” after skidding off the runway, and then “fell about 30-40 metres” down a bank.

The accident, which he attributed to bad weather, “could have had more serious consequences”, he said.

NTV showed images of the badly damaged plane and flames inside, which were later put out by firefighters.

After darkness fell, television footage showed dozens of rescue workers in high-visibility jackets surrounding the plane with flashlights.

Some sprayed water jets onto the severed body of the aircraft, while others could be seen climbing up onto the plane to comb through the cabin.

‘Strong landing’

According to NTV, Turhan said the plane broke after a “strong landing” at Sabiha Gokcen, one of two main international airports in Istanbul.

The front of the plane including the cockpit was sliced off from the bulk of the fuselage, and another huge fissure separated the rear of the aircraft including the tail.

Sabiha Gokcen, which lies on the Asian side of Turkey’s commercial hub, was closed and flights were being redirected to Istanbul’s main airport.

There had been very strong winds and rain in the area before the incident and poor weather conditions in Istanbul, particularly in winter, often lead to the cancellation of flights.

The Istanbul public prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incident.

The plane had landed at the airport at 1518 GMT, the private DHA news agency reported.

In January 2018, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment at Trabzon airport on the Black Sea, and landed just metres from the water with its wheels stuck in thick mud.

After four days, the plane was eventually lifted back onto the runway with engineers using cranes. All 162 passengers and six crew were safely evacuated.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to make Istanbul the world’s top aviation hub and in 2018 opened a new mega-airport in the city of 15 million people.

Pegasus, which has been flying for 20 years, has a fleet of 83 aircraft, including 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes, according to its website.

AFP