Archive | June 2012

This week’s update

A couple of updates:

  • Air Nigeria will not commence its new route to Johannesburg tomorrow. The embattled airline has difficulty to honour its agreement with EgyptAir, which would provide a second A330-200 for the route. The aircraft (SU-GCJ) is still parked at Cairo. Earlier this week, Air Nigeria fired twelve pilots and engineers who were involved in the strike action of three weeks ago. If Air Nigeria doesn’t return back into the skies soon, it may well be the end of the road for the airline. With the exposed mismanagement and lack of political support, it’s difficult to see a way back for the airline.
  • Apparently, Arik Air had to do some overdue maintenance on its CRJ900 fleet. 5N-JEA, -JEB, -JEC and -JED were all flown to Cologne for maintenance by Lufthansa Technik this month.
  • A good report on the efforts of the Federal Government to get back control over Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2.
  • Nasarawa State is also planning a cargo airport in Karu near Abuja; the State earlier began work on a passenger airport near Lafia.
  • Two aviation associations worth mentioning: APWEN and Women in Aviation – Nigeria Chapter.
  • Enough is Enough started a website called AirWatchNigeria, where air travellers can record their experiences in the Nigerian aviation sector.
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Etihad to commence Lagos-Abu Dhabi on 1 July

Etihad Airways will start its earlier announced six-weekly service from Abu Dhabi to Lagos on July 1. An A330-200 will be operated on the route, according to the following schedule:

  • EY671 AUH-LOS 10.00-14.45 (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday)
  • EY672 LOS-AUH 20.00-06.55 (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday)
  • EY673 AUH-LOS 14.25-07.10 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
  • EY674 LOS-AUH 08.50-19.45 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Lagos is the airline’s first destination in West Africa. Nigeria’s capital is already served daily by two other Gulf carriers: Emirates (Dubai) and Qatar Airways (Doha).

Aero to commence Abuja-Uyo route

Aero announced it will commence daily flights between Abuja and Uyo per 9 July 2012. Flight schedule:

  • AJ157 Abuja – Uyo 12:45-13:55
  • AJ158 Uyo – Abuja 12:45-13:55

Aero already operates daily flights between Lagos and Uyo. Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom, is also served by Arik Air and until recently by Dana Air.

Air Nigeria scales down London service

Air Nigeria has reduced its frequency on the Lagos-London Gatwick route from daily to four-weekly. Outbound flights are now on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The airline will soon accept a second wet-leased A330-200 (SU-GCJ) from EgyptAir; the aircraft is already painted in Air Nigeria colours. Air Nigeria is planning to commence flights to Johannesburg on 1 July 2012.

The airline’s  domestic and regional operations are still suspended due to a financial audit by the aviation authorities. Local newspaper reports suggest that GECAS considers repossessing five B737-300s, which it leased to Air Nigeria at a monthly rate of $120000.

CHC to partner Jagal

After ending its partnership with Aero Contractors in 2010, CHC Helicopters has now teamed up with the Lagos-based Jagal Group – a Lebanese-owned industrial conglomerate – to provide helicopter services in Nigeria. In 2011 CHC reported:

We’ve had our challenges in Nigeria in recent years. Last year we started reducing our fleet size in that country as part of our transition plan to reestablish a strong and sustainable presence there. (…) First we have signed an agreement with our existing local partner. Both parties agreed on a transition phase to exit our relationship in an orderly fashion. (…) Second, we have active discussions with another local operator on opportunities to put some of those aircrafts back to work. And lastly, we’ll work on identifying long-term partners and a new structure in Nigeria for CHC to operate successfully and profitably over the long term. It’ll take us some time to go through this transition, and we continue to – we’ll continue to update you on our progress. Overall though, we’re very excited about the potential in Nigeria and the impact it will have on our business.

Snake Island Heliport (Lagos) – Operated by Jagal

MaxAir signs new maintenance contract

MaxAir signed a deal with Alsalam Aircraft Company to carry out maintenance on its fleet of four B747-300s and one B747-400. The airline specialises in Hajj charter flights, and having a Saudi Arabian maintenance provider helps the Nigerian carrier ensure the appropriate inspections are in compliance with the Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation. MaxAir is owned by Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, and the airline also operates an Embraer Legacy 600 jet (M-ANGA) and a Learjet 45 (5N-LDM).

MaxAir – B747-300 – 5N-DDK

Associated Aviation to acquire four EMB145s

Associated Aviation announced that it will replace its four EMB120s turbo props with four EMB145s in the coming months. The airline already operates one 50-seat Embraer 145 (5N-BJM), leased from Bauchi State. Associated’s current fleet is not fully operational, according to the airline’s Managing Director, Mrs Cordelia Ekwueme, as two aircraft are abroad for maintenance checks. Associated usually operates thinner domestic routes from Abuja and Lagos to Akure, Benin, Gombe, Ibadan and Sokoto. It plans to add Asaba in the near future. The airline also operates two B727Fs and a couple of business jets. Reportedly, Associated Aviation was acquired by TaK Group in 2011.

Hajj 2012 airlines

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) announced that six airlines are approved by the Federal Government for this year’s Hajj pelgrimage. Kabo Air, MaxAir, Med-View Airline, Meridian Airlines, Tradecraft Air and Ethiopian Airlines are the selected carriers, while Hamsel Air Services and Aero Aviation Services will serve as back-up charter airlines. Furthermore, Med-View Cargo, Evergreen and White Aero Ventures are chosen as carriers for the pilgrims’ excess luggage. Around 95,000 pilgrims will be travelling from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia in the last week of September and in the first week of November.

Air Nigeria grounded by NCAA

Air Nigeria’s flight operations are suspended by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the second time in two weeks time. Last week the airline was grounded for safety inspections after a strike action. Today, the NCAA decided to ground the airline with immediate effect over indications that the airline is in financial distress. Air Nigeria’s Managing Director was arrested last Monday by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over the airline’s failure to pay taxes amounting to N4.86 billion over five years and for forging a Tax Clearance Certificate. Air Nigeria’s chairman, Jimoh Ibrahim, is also accused of misusing money from the Aviation Intervention Fund to support his other businesses.

Air Nigeria operates eleven aircraft and operates mainly domestic and regional flights from Lagos. It’s the third airline to shut down this month: Dana Air was grounded after a crash of one of its aircraft and FirstNation Airways had to stop all its operations as its whole fleet requires mandatory maintenance checks.

Air Nigeria’s MD arrested over unremitted taxes

More bad news for Air Nigeria: its Managing Director, Knife Kahssaye, was arrested by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), as the airline is accused of not remitting taxes worth N4,8 billion.

The arrest was as a result of the tax enforcement drive by the Debt Enforcement and Special Prosecution Unit (DESPU) of the Service aimed at recovering arrears of taxes due to government from Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). Air Nigeria was also accused of failure to file its annual tax returns for 2011 as and when due, while the one for 2012 is still pending.

Air Nigeria agrees that it has outstanding tax liabilities to pay, but pleads for time to settle them. The airline released a statement denouncing the ‘military approach’ of FIRS, and it sees the invasion as part of a conspiracy:

It should be noted that since the commencement of international operations on the Lagos – London route, Air Nigeria has become the object of an orchestrated attacks that show clearly that this is a case of the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau. In following the external influence, local staff of the airline went on strike in May for May salary which the management has resolved amicably. As the airline was coming out of that, the news of it being grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) infiltrated town. Again, as the airline was coming out of this with a clean bill of health, barely two days after, the airline is yet invaded in a military manner. We suspect that one other line of action will be coming in the coming week to further attempt to damage us in the public eye; but we assure the instigator of such uncivilized approach that Air Nigeria will not compromise its corporate values and development strategy.

Update: After a day of accusations and counter-accusations, it seems that FIRS and Air Nigeria have agreed to find a solution for the outstanding tax debt.

On another note, Air Nigeria has selected IFE Services as its in-flight entertainment (IFE) provider:

The agreement covers the provision of entertainment content across the airline’s fleet of A330s. Passengers in business class will be offered a complimentary iPad 3 on which to enjoy Nigerian, classic and latest release Hollywood movies as well as a broad selection of comedy, lifestyle, drama and kids TV shows. Air Nigeria is the first African carrier to offer the iPad 3 to passengers as an in-flight entertainment solution. In economy class, passengers can enjoy latest release Hollywood movies and a selection of TV shows on the airplanes’ digital mainscreen systems. IFE Services is also producing a new animated safety film for the airline.

British Airways B747 runway excursion at Abuja Airport

A British Airways B747-400 went off the runway at Abuja Airport, while turning around to backtrack the runway on Saturday morning, 16 June 2012. The aircraft missed the last available exit of the runway, which is shortened at the moment for renovation works, and had to turn around to exit the runway. The runway excursion led to no damage to the aircraft and nobody was hurt; the aircraft performed the return flight to London on the same day.

The length of the runway at Abuja Airport is currently reduced to 3,000/2,200 meters, and the Nigerian airlines had earlier called for a closure of the airport, as it would be unsafe for large aircraft to land at the moment. Several flights were also diverted last week Friday due to a blackout at the airport. The incident reminds of an accident that occurred at Lagos Airport in 2003, when a Hydro Air Cargo B747F (ZS-OOS) landed on a closed runway.

This week’s update

A few updates:

  • There is no new information on the Dana Air crash. According to a report, the crew requested to land on runway 18R rather than 18L about 20 minutes prior to the accident, meaning that a technical problem may have developed earlier during the flight.
  • Dana Air hopes to resume operations as soon as it is cleared by the authorities.
  • Air Nigeria’s regional and domestic operations were grounded for more than a week. After a strike by pilots and engineers, the NCAA decided to audit the airline’s fleet. Air Nigeria resumed operations on Thursday, 14 June 2012, although a couple of aircraft is abroad for maintenance checks.
  • Air Nigeria postponed its Lagos-Johannesburg service until 1 July 2012. The second wet-leased A330 is yet to join the fleet. The Federal Government also approved Air Nigeria’s request to commence flights to Paris and Rome later this year.
  • The NY Times published an article on air travel in Nigeria.
  • Overland Airways’ ATR42 (5N-BCS) returned from France after overhaul.
  • An Abuja Court of Appeal has ruled that the Federal Government cannot take control of the domestic terminal at Lagos Airport (MMA2).
  • Three new business jets are based in Nigeria: a Falcon 2000LX (M-DARA), registered to Trident Investment but presumably operated for the Dangote Group or the Chagoury Group (the Chagoury brothers have a Falcon 7X (VP-BGG)), a G450 (N224BH) based at Abuja (may belong to Quantum Capital); and a EMB 135 (N357TE) operated for BUA Group.
  • The Nigerian Air Force has completed the Helicopter Flying School in Enugu, which will be inaugurated in July 2012.
  • The Oyo State Governor has revealed plans to transform Ibadan Airport into a cargo airport.
Ibadan Airport (copyright NAN)

Ibadan Airport (copyright NAN)

ATC transcript of Dana Air flight 992

The Ministry of Aviation released the transcription of the last contact between the co-pilot of the crashed Dana Air aircraft and Air Traffic Control (Lagos NAMA Radar Control Room). According to sources, the pilot declared emergency at about 5,000 feet above the sea level; the aircraft disappeared from the radar at about 800 feet above the sea level.

Co-pilot: “Lagos Tower, Dana code 0992!”

ATC: “Danaco 0992, this is Lagos radar, go ahead!”

Co-pilot: “May Day! May Day! May Day! Danaco 0992 Five November Romeo Alpha Mike! (5N-RAM) dual engine failure!”

ATC: “Danaco 0992, read me?”

Co-pilot: “I read you five by five! Dual engine failure! Negative response from throttle! Requesting for direct straight approach!”

ATC: “Alright, position it one mile to touch down, Runway 18R! Contact tower now on 1181!”

Co-pilot: “1181 Good day!”

Air Nigeria’s operations disrupted by strike action

After six days, Air Nigeria has confirmed that its domestic and regional operations are being disrupted by an ongoing strike action by pilots and engineers. According to the airline’s management:

It is (…) illegal and criminal for NAAPE to allow itself to be used by competitors, who are envious of the giant steps already taken by Air Nigeria and Management is already working on a policy that will put a permanent stop to this cheap blackmail.

Air Nigeria’s flights to London are not affected by the strike and operate as normal.

Updates:

  • NAAPE has suspended the strike according to Air Nigeria. However, the airline remains grounded by the NCAA, whose officials will audit Air Nigeria before it can resume operations.
  • On another note, the airline has postponed its inaugural flight from Lagos to Johannesburg from 17 June to 1 July 2012.

Nigeria suspends Dana Air’s operational licence

The Federal Government has grounded Dana Air’s fleet. The measure was taken for the safety of the public as long as the investigation into Sunday’s crash is ongoing.

Today’s rescue work was hampered by the rainy weather, but the FRSC reported that 153 bodies have now been recovered. Families have been trying to identify the bodies of the dead, which are being kept in a morgue in a Lagos hospital.

The Senate also called for the suspension of the DG of the NCAA, Harold Demuren, until the end of the ongoing investigation. According to an article published two months ago:

Dr. Demuren has proved that with CAA autonomy comes improved safety. The zero-accident record sustained for scheduled commercial passenger aircraft in Nigeria since 2006 is the most remarkable outcome of Dr. Demuren’s stewardship in the industry which is the key measuring tool for public assessment of the state of health of the air transport industry. Public confidence shot up as the international aviation community restated high esteem for the Nigerian aviation industry and its regulators. ICAO and IATA particularly testified to the “tremendous improvement” in the safety standard in Nigeria’s aviation industry.

Dana Air released a new press release including more information on the aircraft involved:

Dana Air Flight 9J 992, flying from Abuja to Lagos, on Sunday had a fatal accident. The Boeing MD83 aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, had 146 passengers onboard: 109 men, 26 women, 5 children and 6 infants. A Dana Air Flight Engineer, 2 Pilots and 4 Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight. The flight captain had a record of 18,500 flight hours and had already flown 7,100 hours on Boeing MD83 aircrafts. The First Officer had flown 1,100 flight hours, 800 of which on the MD83 aircraft. Both pilots’ licenses are current and are verifiable with the NCAA. The aircraft had totalled over 60,000 flight hours and, with total cycles of over 35,000. Its last 400-hourly check (A-Check) was on May 30, 2012 while the statutory annual maintenance (C-Check) is not until September 2012. The Certificate of Airworthiness issued by the NCCA after the last C-Check was still very valid as at the time of the incident. Dana Air began scheduled flights on November 10, 2008 and has operated over 18, 933 flights, carrying over 1, 600, 366 passengers in the process. The airline currently has 5 Boeing MD83 aircrafts in its fleet, all fully insured for the passengers and aircrafts by a company based in the UK, who are currently on their way to Lagos. The company is professionally managed and adheres strictly to the maintenance schedule for all its aircrafts as prescribed by the manufacturers, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. More detailed and scheduled checks are, however, carried out at MRO maintenance facilities abroad.

Updates:

  • The search for victims ended on Wednesday. Emergency workers have recovered 153 complete corpses as well as fragmented remains. It’s still not clear how many residents lost their life in the accident.
  • The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) will send investigators to the United States with the recovered Flight Data Recorder for analysis.
  • Dana Air’s CFO, Oscar Wason, said on television that a bird strike may have caused the crash of the aircraft. The aircraft left Abuja at 14:54 p.m., about 40 minutes later than scheduled. The pilot reported an engine failure at 15:42, but it’s not certain that it was a dual engine failure.
  • Dana Air publishes press statements with updates on its website.
  • The Federal Government has ordered a technical and financial audit of all airlines operating in Nigeria.

Dana Air flight 9J-992: update

A couple of updates:

  • The names of the 153 people (7 crew and 146 passengers) on board were released yesterday evening. About 80 bodies had been pulled out of the crash site by around 12.30 pm, today.
  • At the moment, at least sixteen people are reported to have died on the ground, while some others are being treated for injuries.
  • The captain was an American citizen, the first officer an Indian, and the engineer that released the aircraft was from Indonesia.
  • Reportedly, the pilot declared emergency reporting the failure of both engines shortly before the crash, but nothing more is known about the reasons for the crash.
  • Search and rescue teams found what they believed to be the plane’s black box flight recorder and handed it over to police.
  • BBC’s latest video report. The suggestion that the crashed aircraft made an emergency landing last month is wrong – that was a different aircraft (5N-SRI).
  • AP’s images of today and yesterday.
  • Although questions have been raised in the past over Dana Air’s maintenance policy, it’s to early to jump to conclusions on the causes of the crash. In general, the airline was regarded as one of the more reliable airlines in Nigeria.
  • The authorities need to prove their sincerity by enabling a thorough investigation by the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau, without the interference of third parties as happened in the case of the 2006 ADC crash (of which the final report is yet to be released).
  • Dana Air has set up a call centre to respond to enquiries on the crash: 01-2809888 and 07003593262. See also the NCAA website with information.
  • Dana Air has suspended all its operations:

The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of Flight 9J-992 of Sunday, June 3, 2012. The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers onboard. 1 Dana Air Flight Engineer, 2 Pilots and 4 Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased, and we are doing everything we can to assist them in this extremely difficult time. A 24hr Call Centre service has been initiated and we have also set up an information center at MMA2 to look after their needs and keep them as quickly informed as possible.
An investigation into the cause of the accident got under way immediately, under the guidance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who are being assisted by investigators from the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Dana Air is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.
In accordance with international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all information about the investigation will come from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Dana Air will however provide information relating to the flight itself and updates on steps being taken.
Once again, we at Dana Air extend our profoundest condolences. Jacky Hathiramani, Chief Executive Officer

  • The aircraft was ‘in perfect condition‘ according to a Dana Air spokesman, denying the accusation that it had developed a technical problem at Calabar while operating an early Sunday morning flight.

Rescue workers at the crash site on Monday

Dana Air MD83 crashes near Lagos Airport

Reports are coming in about an incident involving a Dana Air aircraft carrying 153 people near Lagos Airport (Agege).

Summary:

A Dana Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83, registration 5N-RAM, performing flight 9J-992 from Abuja to Lagos with 153 people on board, was on approach to Lagos when the crew reported engine problems. On final approach to runway 18L at about 15:00 local time the aircraft collided with a power line, crashed into a built up area about 5-6nm from touch down and burst into flames. A number of residential houses around the crash site are on flames, too, a large smoke plume is visible above the city. All occupants of the aircraft perished in the crash, there is no information yet about victims on the ground.

Updates:

  • Not looking good. First picture
  • Crash happened in a residential area. Several buildings are on fire.
  • The crash site seems to be near Ayinla Bus Stop, north of the airport, Iju Ishaga road, Agege.
  • This picture seems to confirm that it is a Dana Air MD83.
  • 153 people said to be onboard.
  • Dana Air just received its fifth MD-83 aircraft this week.
  • Dana Air’s fleet details. Four aircraft are ex-Alaska and one ex-Avianca aircraft, all around twenty years old.
  • Harold Demuren of NCAA confirms the crash of a Dana Air aircraft. Nigeria Federal Emergency Management Agency is en route to crash site
  • Dana Air from Lagos Airport to Abuja, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Calabar: www.flydanaair.com. The airline was formed in 2008 by the Indian-owned Dana Group.
  • 153 onboard according to the NCAA. No survivors.
  • The last accident involving a commercial aircraft in Nigeria was the ADC B737-200, which crashed at Abuja Airport on 29 October 2006.
  • Shocking images.
  • Confirmed: 147 passengers and 6 crew members.
  • The aircraft involved was registered 5N-RAM, a former Alaska Airlines plane built in 1990.
  • Dana Air is working with NCAA and FAAN to release the manifest – names of passengers – of the crashed aircraft.
  • The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, is on her way to the crash site.
  • CVR recovered according to this report.
  • President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a three-day period of national mourning.
  • There is still confusion over the flight involved: either flight 9J-992 from Abuja on approach to Lagos (as stated by the Ministry of Aviation) or flight 9J-1993/9J-997 from Lagos to Abuja that attempted a return after take-off.
  • BBC uploaded a video of the aftermath of the crash. The speculation about the same aircraft being involved in an incident last month is unfounded.
  • There were no survivors in the crash according to Mohammed Sani Sidi, director of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Authorities have not released any information on casualties on the ground.
  • It’s now confirmed that the aircraft was en route from Abuja to Lagos, flight number 9J-992.
  • Boeing’s statement on today’s accident.
  • Sixteen residents are reported to have died on the ground.
  • The Ministry of Aviation has published phone numbers to which those involved can call for information.
Scene from the crash site

Scene at the crash site

Dana Air - MD83 - 5N-RAM (copyright Ken Iwelumo)

Dana Air – MD83 – 5N-RAM (copyright Ken Iwelumo)