Why always Dana Airline?

As it was expected to happen, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), this week, approved full audit of Dana Air facilities. Also penciled for investigation was how the airline carries out its operations.
It would be recalled that planes belonging to Dana Airline were involved in minor accidents in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, Rivers state, recently, with one of the planes said to have overshot the runway after it touched down.
It was reported that the aircraft, with number 9J0363, flew into Port Harcourt after taking passengers from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The aircraft is said to have overshot the runway.
Similarly, what may have been another tragedy in the Nigerian aviation industry was also recently averted as the door of Dana Air aircraft fell off while taxiing to the apron side of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) to disembark passengers. The aircraft, an MD 83, had departed Lagos for Abuja with about 120 passengers on board when the incident happened.
Thus, the call for investigation into the developments was expected and it should be commended. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, who disclosed this at the end of the council meeting in Abuja, said the audit was necessary to ascertain the fitness of airline’s facilities and quality of its operations.
He said: “A lot of quality time was spent discussing air safety. The government of Nigeria is very much concerned about safety and the lives of Nigerians.” Shehu said that owing to one of the recent Dana Airline incidences, the aviation authorities have suspended the licences of engineer and pilot of the Dana Airline and ordered the audit of Dana Airline’s personnel, operations and technical capacity to discharge its aviation responsibilities.
It would also be recalled that an incident described as a national tragedy occurred in the year 2012 when an airplane, McDonnel Douglas (MD) 83, belonging to the Dana Airline, crashed into a residential building in Lagos, killing all the 153 passengers and several others on the ground.
Of course, then, like now, the federal government established an investigation panel to determine the cause of that accident. It can be said that the Dana aircraft have problems and, if precedence is anything worth considering, the ill-fated MD 83 aircraft was reported to be bedeviled with some electrical and mechanical problems.
The plane, it is said, had on previous occasions made emergency landings after witnessing some hydraulic and technical problems.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the then Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, in a preliminary report to the President on the cause of the accident attributed the reason to the failure of two of the plane’s engines.
In fact, not only in Nigeria, the McDonnel Douglas planes are globally noted for their technical problems and high cost of maintenance, forcing many countries to sanction their use.
When in January 2000 an Alaska Airline’s MD 83 plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean before it could make an emergency landing at Los Angeles, the safety board of the United States identified mechanical problem and improper maintenance as the causes of the crash.
Again, in 2011, the United States grounded 300 MD 80s planes to check their air worthiness and recommended the civil penalties of US7.1million dollars against the American Airline for flying two MD 80s in December when it knew that they were not airworthy.
These documented problems of the MD planes used by Dana should have in an ideal situation made the Nigerian aviation regulatory agencies to pay more attention to the activities of the airlines using the MD 80s aircrafts.
Unfortunately, the situation in the Nigerian aviation industry is far from what can be described as the ideal.
Agreed that maintenance, not the age of an aircraft, is the measure for its airworthiness, but the Cape Town Convention domesticated by Nigeria encourages the African airlines to use their older aircraft as collateral to acquire newer and safer airplanes.
It is lamentable that only very few airlines in Nigeria have new airplanes in their fleet while many are using the aircrafts that have either been banned in some countries or were phased out by most airlines abroad because of their safety risks or high cost of maintenance.
Agreed that Nigeria’s harsh economic conditions have made the profitable running of airline and other businesses difficult or even impossible without engaging in some corrupt practices, but it must be said that by comparison, air transportation still remains among the safest means of transportation in Nigeria.
The challenge is for the government and stakeholders in the aviation industry to improve air transportation through the revision, strengthening and enforcement of safety regulations with a view to meeting international standards.
Quite well, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been encouraging the airlines to take advantage of the domestication of the Cape Town Convention, but the need for the airlines to acquire new aircrafts cannot be overemphasized.
Therefore, the NCAA must compel the airlines to take advantage of the Cape Town Convention. Preferably, the government should overhaul the aviation industry and check the monumental corruption going on there.
By doing so, the work of the investigation panel established to determine the cause of the Dana plane incidences in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt and recommend how to achieve the goal of safe air transportation will be made easier.
What it means to be out of recession
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udoma Udoma, said this week that statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have shown that Nigeria has finally and graciously exited recession.
The minister said: “You will recall that the NBS indicated that in the last quarter of 2017 the economy had continued its positive growth trajectory by growing by 1.92%. This is higher than the previous quarter when it grew by 1.40%. And higher still from the 2nd Quarter, when it grew by 0.72%. The numbers clearly show that the economy has fully exited recession.”
He said that the growth is broad based with agriculture growing at 4.23% up from 3.06% in the 3rd Quarter. Other sectors such as transportation and storage, electricity and gas production, metal ores, and industry all grew.
Particularly noteworthy, Udoma said, were the growth recorded in trade (2.07% and services (o.10%) after six quarters of negative growth, while the non-oil sector grew by 1.45%, its strongest since 2015.
He said that the rate of inflation is also trending downwards, moving down from 18.72% in January 2017 to 15.13% in January 2018.
Of course, it goes without saying that the minister’s revelations are good for the nation’s economy and people. Still, it must be said that telling news from Udoma was the performance of agriculture which witnessed growth to 4.23%, from 3.06% in the 3rd Quarter.
It’s telling because of the importance of the agriculture sector, particularly its ability to provide unemployed youths with gainful employment.
Above all, as President Muhammadu had said, “until coming out of recession translates into meaningful improvement in peoples’ lives,” the work of the government cannot be said to be done.
And, like Buhari, getting out of recession to most Nigerians means more than the statistics frequently dished out by authorities. It means seeing food on their table, affording their children’s’ school fees and ensuring affordable good health for all.

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