Engineer Akin Olateru, the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), has castigated the management of Delta Airlines over the fire incident involving its Airbus A330-200 aircraft mid-air last Tuesday night.
The visibly angry Olateru said that as at 3pm on Wednesday, the management of the airline was yet to inform the Agency as required by the law, rather went straight to its agency in the United States, National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) to report the incident.
Briefing journalists at the bureau’s headquarters Wednesday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Olateru said that as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Nigeria been a country of occurrence should be informed and involved in the investigation of the incident.
But, said as at 3pm Wednesday, its investigators could not go near the aircraft as they were yet to be notified of the incident while the Bureau too could not notify ICAO as required by the law.
He explained that AIB was guided with ICAO Annex 13 on accident investigation and maintained that Delta only obeyed the US law while undermining the Nigerian law on accident and incident investigation.
“We have an obligation to notify ICAO on this serious incident, but unfortunately, we cannot fulfill that obligation because we are still waiting for Delta to give us information as to this serious incident. This is a serious incident and by law we are investigating it.
“There is what they call country of occurrence and Nigeria is a country of occurrence of this incident. Yes, it is a US carrier, US operator, US registered aircraft, but there are certain state protocols, which have to be respected that gives right of investigation to the country of occurrence except the country of occurrence decides to cede that investigation to country of operator or any other country.
“But in this case, we are able, equipped to investigate this serious incident and we will investigate it but for the sake of clarity, am disappointed in Delta. It is one of the world’s biggest airlines in the world for not respecting our own nation and laws of the land.
“It is totally unacceptable, and we condemn it in totality and I believe the way I see it, we are being undermined, which is not acceptable. ICAO law governs all the activities of air transport business. They know that we must be notified.
“Our websites are there; they can download the form, they can download the App. We wrote to Delta October last year notifying them that we have AIB App, which they just need to download on their phone and send us notification.”
According to him, 219 passengers were onboard the aircraft as at the time of the incident with some of them with minor injuries as a result of the major incident.