Three crashes in 90 days

Three crashes in 90 days


Editorial

 

The story of the deaths of precious Nigerians, including the chief of army staff, is enough to make a nation ponder. It is potent that when it happened, no one has fingered a terrorist, and all suspicions zero in on what experts call “inclement weather.”

Lt-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, with part of the brass of the Nigerian Army, was on duty when the aircraft reportedly hit bad weather. Manoeuvres failed in the eye of the elements. The plane crashed and persons burned even beyond recognition.

So much has been written about the pathos and the controversy. For pathos, we know how the families are grieving both privately and publicly, and the dirges from the president and commander-in-chief, Muhammadu Buhari, and vice president Yemi Osinbajo and many top and ordinary citizens in the country. For pathos also, we know of the tale of the officer who left behind his newlywed spouse three months after tying the knot. Mosque and church resounded with the sorrows.

For drama, we know of the defence minister whose rhetorical stumble was overplayed rather than the dolour that might have twisted his tongue and presence of mind. We might not excuse the president for his absence, but that has little to do with the larger matter of our men who fell from the skies and why a treble for tragedy.

Of the three crashes of military planes belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, two were a similar make: the Beechcraft King350. They included the NAF 201 and NAF 203. The odd numbers leave only two of such aircraft in our fleet: NAF202 and NAF 204.

If it is matter of weather, we still need some answers. How much of the weather did the pilots know before they took off? Was it an act of bravado, a sort of martial daring-do? Was it a sudden turn in the weather? In 21st century Nigeria, what was the quality of air towers at the adjoining airports?

Was it a case of technological gap between Abuja and Lagos and others? How airworthy was the plane? Was it a case of what the experts call an act of God? Or was it a certain defect in the aircraft now being exposed by the tragedies in the Nigerian skies?

We understand that the NAF has not traditionally subjected itself to the civilian standard operating procedures. This time, it has stepped aside for the Accident Investigation Bureau – Nigeria (AIB-N) and the NAF has given the mandate. This will bring a democratic quality to the findings and help us get to the bottom of the matter.

It is also cheering that the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) have been found. But still casting a shadow over the NAF’s search for truth is its silence or, at most, reticence over the third plane that crashed in the north east. Words have been stingy from both the air force and the Federal Government, especially when a former chief of defence staff and head of the country had to scramble for an explanation when speculations named him as the owner of the plane.

The NAF 203 crashed in Abuja in February and we lost eight officers. This is sad because they were humans with bodies and souls and they were trained to defend the vulnerable, especially in this era of banditry and militancy. Their deaths cast a pall on our spirit.

We expect an expedited but thorough inquest into why the planes fell from the skies while expecting that due diligence accompanies any further flights. And this also applies to civilian planes that have, of late, had near misses in the air.

Source: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

#crashes #days

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