by Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Lagos – The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Wednesday said it had yet to get notification from Delta Air Lines regarding Tuesday’s emergency landing by its Atlanta-bound flight at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Briefing journalists in Lagos, Mr Akin Olateru, AIB Commissioner, said the airline’s action was a clear breach of Nigeria’s aviation laws and regulations.
NAN reports that the Delta Air Lines flight 55 from Lagos to Atlanta, which took off around 10.50 pm on Tuesday, made an air return less than an hour later due to an engine issue.
The Pilot in Command announced the evacuation of all the passengers on board within 90 seconds, after contacting the Control Towers because the left engine of the aircraft was said to have caught fire mid air in-flight.
The United States carrier, in a statement signed by its media consultant, Mr Tope Awe, confirmed that all passengers were evacuated successfully with five persons sustaining minor injuries.
Olateru said it was the responsibility of the AIB to investigate such serious incidents, but the airline only notified the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
He said :”As you are aware, AIB is an agency of government that investigates accidents and serious incidents.
“The enabling Act of 2006 and all we do here is in accordance with our regulation which takes a cue from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annexe 13.
“Everything we do here is in accordance with ICAO Annexe 13. Unfortunately, up until 3pm, this afternoon, Delta as an airline has refused to notify AIB in accordance with the law of our country.
“But they notified the US NTSB.”
According to him, the AIB has an obligation to notify ICAO on the serious incident but unfortunately cannot fulfil it because the bureau is still waiting for Delta to provide information regarding the incident.
“This is a serious incident, and by law, we are investigating. 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 give 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, I am disappointed in Delta, 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 its totality,” he said.
Olateru said he had been in contact with his counterpart in the US, Mr Dennis Jones, Managing Director of NTSB who had agreed to ensure that Delta does the needful.
He said what the AIB had done was to secure the aircraft and ensure that nobody goes near it pending the commencement of investigations.
Olateru said the airline’s crew had also been barred from leaving Nigeria until they have been thoroughly interviewed by investigators to ascertain what led to the incident. (NAN)