The Coroner of Alimosho District of Lagos state, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who is conducting an inquest into the Dana air crash of June 3, 2012 at Iju-Ishaga area of the state, was today (Tuesday) given graphic details of the last 15 minutes of the flight 0992 before it crashed killing all 152 persons on board.
A witness, Olubukola Arogunjo, an Air Traffic Controller with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) said he received a distress call from the pilot at14.42 UTC- universal time coordinate) that’s about 3.42pm local time and three minutes after the call, the aircraft went off the radar.
Mr Arogunjo also told the coroner that when he got the distress call, the plane was at 11 NM (nautical miles) to touch down which gave him the thought the plane would crash inside the airport.
He said that immediately he got the distress call he transferred it to Aerodrum Controller consequent upon which emergency agencies, including fire services, search and rescue team and others were deployed to the landing field.
The witness also recalled the conversation he had with the pilot. He said “the pilot told me that the aircraft had dual engine and throttle failure”.
“Prior to the distress call, the pilot had begun to descend to flight level 5000 feet and its arrival was expected on runway 18L for landing but two minutes later the pilot requested for approach on runway 18R and was obliged.
“At 14.43UTC (3.43p.m local time), the witness said he observed the aircraft on radar with dropping speed and altitude then at 14.45(3.45p.m) the aircraft went into coasted status, that is, fading from the scope, and later disappeared.
Mr Arogunjo said he promptly informed the tower about this and few seconds later, tower said they could see the aircraft on the extended centreline of the runway with dark smoke.
When Magistrate Oyetade asked him why the radar could not monitor the aircraft up until the time it crashed, the witness said “what we have is a terminal approach radar. It will not show the object on the ground. The one that will show objects on the ground is a surveillance radar”.
“We have had training on its use but we don’t have it in Nigeria”, the witness added.
He further noted that an Ibadan bound private helicopter volunteered to be vectored to the crash site for observation and assistance adding that though that the location of the crash was not in doubt, as they had the coordinates and had passed it on to other parties”.
Another witness, the General Manager with Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Oluwafemi Osanyintolu, told the coroner court that though officials of his agency got to the crash site early, the huge crowd at the site was an impediment to rescue operations.
Mr Osanyintolu said that emergency agencies on ground, including firemen, Rapid Respond Squad, ambulance men, LASTMA and Policemen, could not access the aircraft immediately they got there because of the surging crowd.
He said that when they were overwhelmed by the crowd, they had to call the state governor, Babatunde Fashola who deployed the Disaster Rescue Unit of the Nigerian Army to assist.