Sunday, October 13

Lagos Plane Crash: FG Probes Pilots Training

The aviation industry regulator, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, has commenced intensive investigation into institutions abroad where the pilots of the ill-fated Associated Airlines plane that crashed in Lagos on October 3 undertook their last re-currency training.

Pilot re-currency training is a compulsory simulator training pilots are mandated by law to undergo every six months. The development, it was learnt, followed the unusual manner the pilots ignored the automated warning from the onboard computer voice, alerting them of a possible problem with the aircraft flaps and right engine, as revealed by the preliminary report. Aviation officials close to the investigation said it was against pilots’ training rule to ignore any alert when an aircraft is in a take-off roll.

As a result, the official said the NCAA was probing the pilots’ training records.
Sources close to the investigation said the NCAA was writing letters to the overseas institutions to ascertain some details about the crew’s training. A top official close to the investigation explained, “It is quite unusual for any pilot to ignore the automated warnings from the onboard computer voice, which the crew received approximately four seconds after engine power was advanced to commence the take-off roll. It is quite unusual; it is against pilot training rule.

“As part of the investigation, NCAA is writing the schools overseas to question why people who did their simulator training in their institution could ignore such warning. Apart from this, the NCAA will be looking into the entire training history of the pilots.”

Pilots who fail simulator training test are not allowed to fly until they are able to pass it. Through the use of a simulator, pilots are tested on how to handle various abnormal and emergency flight conditions such as engine failure, engine fire and severe weather conditions, among others.

The Accident Investigation Bureau had, in its preliminary report released on Friday, said it would be looking into the “crew decision-making and training with respect to proceeding with the flight despite concerns regarding the aircraft’s suitability for flight.”

The Commissioner, AIB, Capt. Muktar Usman, who listed seven areas the investigation would be focussing on in its final report, had in the preliminary report noted that the crew ignored the automated warning from the onboard computer voice.

However, other areas the AIB boss said the investigation would be focussing on are the mechanical and electronic engine control issues related to the right engine and right engine propeller systems; the aural warnings related to auto-feather and the flap settings required for a take-off; the take-off configuration issues with respect to flap settings. Others are when and how the number two engine fire handle was pulled; the standard operating procedures with respect to continuing the take-off roll despite continuous automated voice warnings of both ‘take-off flaps’ and ‘auto feather’, when there was ample time to abort the take-off; and the airline management’s safety culture fostered throughout the airline.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate crash, which left only seven survivors out of the 20 passengers onboard  may  put Nigeria on the global map of the aviation community as the AIB has concluded to develop a ‘comprehensive computer reconstruction’ of the flight, which will be made available to the entire aviation community in downloadable video disks or other storage materials.
This is the first time a crash that happened in Nigeria will be reconstructed to a real life video for the global aviation community.

Usman said the move was necessary to allow the global aviation community and the general public gain some lessons from the unfortunate incident and to also avoid a reoccurrence.
“We are in the process of developing a comprehensive computer reconstruction of the flight, which will help our team to understand the sequence of events and will ultimately help us communicate our findings to the aviation community and the general public,” the AIB commissioner said in the preliminary report.

Source: The Punch

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