Report on Associated Airline Crash Still Elusive

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Felix Abali

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The Accident Investigation Bureau is yet to issue its final report on the Associated Airline plane crashed in crashed in 2013, which killed 16 people because the coroner’s report is not ready too

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 20, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |

EIGHTEEN months after the Associated Airlines crashed in Lagos, the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, is yet to determine the remote and immediate causes of the plane crash. The AIB on Monday, April 6, attributed its failure to make public the final report on the accident to the inability of pathologists and coroners to submit their final reports.

Felix Abali, commissioner, AIB, told aviation correspondents at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, that if the challenges associated with pathologists and coroners handling the Associated plane crash, which claimed 16 out of the 20 passengers onboard had been resolved, AIB would have long ago released its final report on the crash. He said it would be unprofessional for the agency to release the final report without looking critically at the inputs of pathologists and coroners, but assured that such challenges would be resolved very soon.

He said that in a bid to resolve such challenges in the future, AIB was currently working with a major pathologist in the country, whom he said, had lots of connections with some of the hospitals in different states across the nation. “That takes us back to the problems we are having with coroners and pathologists. We are actually still waiting for their reports. Accident as you know could be caused by a lot of factors. Assuming that one of the crew members was drunk, how do you determine this?

“It is through pathological reports that you can know the true state of health of such crewmember. If we don’t have such information then, the report is incomplete. We cannot go and publish something and leave out some aspects. What we have been doing is that we try to come to an understanding with them. We have been trying to write a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with them. As a matter of fact, we just started working with one of the pathologists who basically has a lot of connections with some of the hospitals in different states. These hospitals will work with this individual who will just report to us. If that works, I think the situation would be alleviated,” he said.

Abali assured that the sector was safe for flying despite some accidents in recent time, but said that accident could not be eradicated in the industry; rather, it could be reduced to the barest minimum. “Aviation industry is safe globally and will always be safe. Till now except the one that happened over Ukraine that the people know the cause of it, the other two or three, we don’t know the causes yet and I think in accident investigation, it is not always right to speculate. It doesn’t do the industry any good and it will not enhance safety in the system.

“Until the black boxes are discovered and the true causes of the accidents are known, we won’t be able to comment much on them. But, I want to emphasise here that aviation is still the safest mode of transportation anywhere in the world.” The accident investigator equally concurred that, notwithstanding recent accidents in the industry, which has led to the loss of hundreds of lives, aviation industry is still the safest mode of transportation worldwide.

Associated Aviation Flight 361, a domestic charter flight operated by Associated Aviation from Murtala Mohammed Airport, enroute Lagos to Akure Airport, Ondo State, crashed shortly after take-off on October 3, 2013. The aircraft was conveying the body of Olusegun Agagu, former governor of Ondo State from Lagos to Akure for burial.

It lifted off from runway 18L of Murtala Mohammed Airport at about 09:32 local time. The AIB, responsible for investigating air crashes, opened an investigation into the fatal accident on October 11, 2013. In the AIB preliminary reports, it suggested that improperly configured flaps for takeoff might have led to the crash. The report also reveals that one engine of the aircraft appeared to be working normally whilst the second engine produced significantly less thrust.

The report stated that flight 361 was equipped with both a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. Both recorders were replayed at the AIB’s recently acquired flight recorder laboratory located in Abuja. International flight recorder experts from Canada, who designed the laboratory, assisted the investigation team with the readout and analysis process along with representatives from the aircraft manufacturer and aircraft operator, Associated Airlines.

The cockpit voice recorder or CVR was an older generation magnetic tape based device. The CVR’s magnetic tape recording was removed from the unit and replayed on an open reel 4 track tape deck specially adapted for replaying CVR’s of this type. The CVR contained 32 and one half minutes of audio which included the internal conversation of the two pilots, radio calls and the overall aural environment in the cockpit on the cockpit area microphone.

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