Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah, on Wednesday said the black boxes retrieved from the ill-fated Dana Air flight that killed over 153 persons in Lagos on Sunday would on Thursday (today) be sent to the United States.
Oduah said sending the black boxes to the US was to ensure that a thorough investigation was carried out to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the crash.
The minister spoke with State House correspondents shortly after a special Federal Executive Council meeting organised to round off the three-day national mourning declared by the Federal Government in honour of the crash victims.
She said, “At the site of the incident, there were officials of the AIB who gathered information; they cut the parts from the aircraft, looking for clues. Every and any information that they take will be taken back to the laboratory where it will be analysed to get the exact reason for the accident.
“But in addition to that, because we do not have a laboratory for that, things like the black boxes, for instance, we need to take them outside the country for proper analysis and then they come back.
“I want to also say that amongst the team that worked with the Aviation Investigations Bureau were are international experts. So you are not likely to have collusion or reports that will have integrity issue. So, I want to assure that the report you will get will be a very authentic report.”
Oduah said President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the setting up of a nine-man technical and administrative panel that will audit all airlines operating in the country.
The move, she explained, was to avoid a recurrence of such incident in the nation’s airspace.
She said the committee, which has a time frame of six months to complete its assignment, was expected to come up with a comprehensive report on each of the airlines in the country.
The minister said the committee’s scope of work would include the immediate review of all domestic airlines; total auditing of all aircraft registered in Nigeria; outlining actions to be taken to improve safety as well as assessment of the financial health of airlines operating within the country, among others.
She gave the names of members of the committee as Group Captain John Obakpolor (rtd) (Chairman); Capt. Austin Omame; Capt. Dele Sasegbon, Dr. O.B Aliu, F.C. Onyeyiri, Capt. Mfon Udom, Capt. Mukhtar Usman, Dr. Tony Anuforom and Capt. A. Mshelia.
She said, “This review panel that we have established will immediately perform a comprehensive assessment of all the domestic scheduled airlines. They will ensure that management culture as well as effectiveness of NCAA’s oversight of airline maintainable practice is maintained and enhanced.
“The panel is mandated to make bold recommendations to the Federal Republic of Nigeria on actions that will need to be taken to improve the overall safety net of aviation sector.
“The panel will complete its assignment within six weeks. Their mandate includes assessing the financial health line of airlines that are operating within Nigeria, because this has direct and indirect co-relation with the ability of the airlines to function effectively and maintain their obligation.”
She added that despite the setback occasioned by the Dana crash, the Ministry had resolved to intensify its ongoing institutional reforms. This, she said, would include the strengthening of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
She said the President had also approved the implementation of the report of a Central Bank of Nigeria/Ministry of Aviation’s committee on the financial stability of the airlines.
Oduah disclosed that reports of committees on the Sosoliso and ADC Airlines crashes were ready.
She promised that the findings would soon be made public because of the lessons to be learnt from them.
“I want to say that all the reports of past air crashes, the Sosoliso, ADC, etc are ready and when we get the proper approval to release to the public. We will do so because it serves no purpose to keep them because it is for public knowledge, because there are lessons we should learn from such incidents and not allow it re-occur, that is the purpose,” she said.
At least 108 persons died in the Sosoliso 1145 DC-9 plane crash on Saturday, December 10, 2005 at the Port Harcourt Airport, while the 2006 ADC crash led to the death of 96 passengers and one on-the-ground victim. Among the dead in the ADC crash was the then Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Maccido; and Abdulrahman, son of the second republic President Shehu Shagari.