MANY Nigerians are worried over the safety of the country’s air space. Their worry emanates from the frequent plane crashes that had been experienced in the country recently. Every time there was an air crash, the authorities rushed to the media to allay fears that the aviation sector was not in crisis albeit, postulating that the air space was safe. This happened despite a lot of hot air and promises to turn around the aviation sector with focus on the safety of passengers. This was after the disastrous Dana plane crash in June last year which crushed all the passengers on board. One would have thought that sufficient measures would have been put in place to save Nigerians from a repeat of the horrible nightmare. Just two weeks ago another plane crash occurred involving Associated Airlines killing about 16 people. Again, the authorities in the aviation sector took to both the print and electronic media telling Nigerians of all that had been done since the last accident to ensure safety. They assured Nigerians that the country’s air space would always be safe and brandished all the projects and programmes that had been put in place to ensure safety.
The question is: if the government has done all that has to be done to ensure safety, why are we still having air drops? What is it in the aviation sector that has refused to be treated to ensure safe flights? Is it a case of aviation authorities not knowing what to do or that they do know what to do but are constrained to do the right thing due to the very nature of the value system in the country? In an attempt to find convincing answers, the editorial board of Realnews brainstormed on these issues and did some investigations to ascertain what the problems really is. In the course our research, we found out that plane crashes all over the world could be caused by a number of factors. They include technical problem during flight such as engine failures, bird strikes which could damage sensitive equipment, human error as a result of air traffic controllers giving wrong information to pilots, failure of air traffic controllers to properly monitor the airways, pilot’s error as a result of mental breakdown during flight, a heart attack or the incapacitation of the captain due to depressurised cabin and lack of oxygen which can also result in accidents. The other causes include faulty design by the manufacturers, failure to properly fuel or maintain the aircraft, natural phenomena such as lighting and volcanic ash and, sabotage/explosive device.
In the case of Nigeria, air crashes can be said to occur majorly due to human error which can be curtailed if strict guidelines on air safety are enforced and proper screening and training of pilots is done by the regulatory authorities in the aviation sector. We were able to find out that all the claims by the aviation authorities on what they have done to ensure safety in these sectors may not be off the mark. But the crux of the matter is that we found out something more that could negate all their well-thought out programmes and intentions and that is what is called in the country “the Nigerian factor” which bothers on lackadiasical and nonchalant attitude to work and the inability of regulators to go the extra mile to ensure that the claims made by the airlines with regards to the real status of the planes and insurance documentations are genuine. The details of our investigation is encapsulated in our cover story of this week entitled: Crisis in Aviation Sector: The Nigerian Factor. It was written by Olu Ojewale, general editor. Enjoy it.
— Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT