Stories by Louis Ibah
Worried by recent accidents involving aircraft flown by cadet pilots and their instructors in Nigeria, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) over the weekend demanded stronger regulations on all flights emanating from the Nigerian College of Aviation technology (NCAT) Zaria and the International Aviation College (IAC) Ilorin. NCAT and IAC are Nigeria’s two pilot training colleges and the AIB recently concluded an investigation into two aircraft incidents involving the two schools.
In the last 10 years, there have been cases involving student pilots crashing aircraft around Kaduna, Abuja, and Ilorin while on training. The AIB noted that although there had been no death from the crashes, cadets involved in the accidents investigated had sustained severe injuries. The accidents had also led to the damages of the aircraft with attendant loses to the schools.
To this end, the AIB demanded that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which regulates the industry step up regulations on the two schools and ensure that they operate in conformity with Nigeria’s civil aviation regulations just like other commercial and charter flight operators.
According to the Commissioner/CEO of the AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, the agency had to release the report of investigations into air accidents in the country to serve as a deterrent or prevent other pilots and airlines from making the same mistake.
Said Olateru, “Accident investigation plays a vital role in enthroning and sustaining a robust air safety regime. Accident reports help to prevent further accidents. This cannot, however be achieved when outcomes of accident investigations are not timely released.”
The IAC incident
The latest AIB report on the International Aviation College (IAC) involved a Diamond DA42 Aircraft with registration 5N-BNH, and the accident occurred at about 4.10pm on runway 23 of Ilorin International Airport on August 18, 2014.
The AIB was notified by International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin at about 5.30pm on August 18, 2014, of the serious incident. Investigators were dispatched to the crash site the following day. All relevant stakeholders were also notified.
The report stated that on August 18, 2014 at 12.20noon, the aircraft 5N–BNH took off from runway 23 of Ilorin International Airport for a training flight with fuel endurance of four hours. There were two persons on board; a Flight Instructor and a student pilot. At the training area, the Flight Instructor requested the Student Pilot to perform some manoeuvres which involved stall simulation in landing configuration. After landing gear extension, the Flight Instructor noticed that the right main gear did not extend. He then took control of the aircraft and performed the emergency gear extension procedure in accordance with the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM); the right main gear still did not extend.
At 2.30pm, the crew informed the Control Tower about the situation and subsequently, the airport safety and emergency services/procedures were activated and put on standby.
At 3.35pm, the Control Tower in liaison with the owners of the aircraft decided to approve the belly-landing of the aircraft on a foamed runway in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
At 4.10pm, the aircraft 5N-BNH belly-landed at the Touch Down Zone (TDZ) on the centre line of Runway 23 after it had been airborne for three hours and fifty minutes.
The aircraft was substantially damaged and there was no fire outbreak. Also, no injuries were sustained by the crew.
The NCAT incident
The AIB report on the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) involved a serious incident with the Socata TBM 850 aircraft with registration 5N-BZA which occurred near Kaduna Airport, Kaduna, Nigeria on May 21, 2013;
The AIB said the accident occurred at about 5.45pm and at 3 nautical miles southeast of Kaduna airport between 13000feet and 9000feet above Mean Sea Level (AMSL). The aircraft was damaged but there was no loss of life.
The AIB said it was notified of the occurrence on June, 16 2013. Investigators were dispatched to carry out a preliminary investigation on the occurrence.
The report said at about 5.5pm on May 21, 2013, a TBM-850 (a turbo prop aircraft certified for 1-pilot operation) with registration 5N-BZA, operated by NCAT, Zaria as admin-flight, departed Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja (NAIA) to Zaria aerodrome with two persons on board (pilot and an observer).
Said the AIB, “Shortly after it commenced descent and while passing FL130, the aircraft entered an intense area of hail associated with a thick cloud. The encounter caused damage to the aircraft’s radome, landing lights and other parts of the engine but the flight continued to its destination, Zaria Aerodrome and landed safely.
“The occupants of the aircraft sustained minor injuries. Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the occurrence and the flight was operating on an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan,” the AIB said.
Cause of the NCAT accident
The report faulted the decision of the crew to depart NAIA with the knowledge of poor or bad weather forecast, and failure to follow the guidance provided by the weather radar advisory to avoid the impending adverse weather.
Other factors identified include, late recognition of the icing/hailstorm encountered by the pilot during the flight, and the failure of the pilot to adequately follow aircraft certification standards (procedures/limitations) for turbulent air, storms and icing conditions penetration.
The AIB recommended that the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) should classify all kind of storms as hazardous considering the types of airplanes it operates (light weight) and the nature of operations it conducts (training), thereby delaying or cancelling any intended flight with warning for storm or any adverse weather phenomena.
It also said NCAT should develop and incorporate TBM 850 aircraft in its Flying School Training Manual (FSTM) and also basic training on weather radar, its systems and operations procedures and adverse weather recognition and avoidance techniques. These topics would enhance the technical and operational knowledge of weather radar equipment for both the instructors and students.
The AIB also recommended that NCAT should ensure that Instructors and students of turbo propeller-driven airplanes review the guidance contained in their manuals and training programs to include updated icing information and to emphasize that leading edge anti icing/de-icing systems are activated as soon as the airplane encounters icing conditions or when icing condition is anticipated.
It also demanded that NCAT should ensure that before the commencement of any admin flight, all necessary documentation is completed including flight plan and retrieval of weather information especially where such information is readily accessible.
NCAT should ensure that observers neither performs active crew duty nor log any flight time to that effect, in order to add value to his/her personal flying log book.
And finally, the AIB recommended that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should enhance its oversight on all operators of special and private category aircraft to ensure strict compliance with all provisions of Nigerian civil aviation regulations as related to personnel licencing and other operational activities.
Cause of the IAC accident
The AIB report on the International Aviation College Accident identified the failure to adhere to the main wheel installation procedure as contained in the aircraft manual by the trainee pilot and instructor.
Other factors include the inadequate oversight by the Quality Assurance Department of the College, and failure to test the correct operation of the landing gear retraction and extension system of the aircraft by the pilots.
The AIB report said the NCAA should intensify its safety oversight responsibilities on the International Aviation College to ensure that it adheres strictly to procedures in the aircraft it uses to train its students and that maintenance records are properly kept.
The AIB also recommended that the IAC should restructure its Quality System to provide adequate safety oversight on the maintenance department thereby enhancing airworthy aircraft and safe operations.
The AIB also said the IAC should ensure that medical, pathological or toxicological examinations are conducted immediately after an occurrence on its cadets and trainers.
The AIB also said Diamond Aircraft Industries should incorporate the following procedures in the aircraft: Landing with partial gear and resetting emergency extension lever after manual extension.
“Our statutory obligation is to investigate air accidents and serious incidents: and by our safety recommendations, mitigate them in order to forestall reoccurrence,” Olateru said.