A troubled Dana flight, back in 2010, whose two engines failed to come on for several minutes, risked dozens of lives and ultimately roared to Lagos from Abuja after one of the engines managed to start, a Joint Senate and House of Representatives inquiry into the recent Dana crash that killed 160 heard Wednesday.
The flight, which had on board former Foreign Affairs minister, Odein Ajumogobia, ended however, without fatality.
But the details of this terrifying experience that forced 23 passengers to exit and give up the journey, underlined the ineptitude that appears rooted in the nation’s aviation sector, and the peril airlines often put their travelers through, Goddy Ikeh, who boarded the flight earlier, told the lawmakers.
The hearing began Tuesday and is billed to end on Friday, with aviation officials making submissions on one of Nigeria’s deadliest air accidents.
On Wednesday, Ike Ibeh, whose family moved from he United states in 2002, moved the panel to emotions of empathy when they leant that he lost his wife, Nancy, their 11 year old daughter, Jennifer, and a family relation, Maria, in the Lagos crash. The family was travelling to India for a programme.
Mr. Ibeh said he was convinced his wife’s verdict on the crash, were she alive today, will be to blame it all on corruption. He said that was his own personal assessment too.
“Bloodshed from corruption in this country has got to stop,” he said in remarks he read to the senate hearing.
The 2010 emergency situation with Dana Air, which went unreported, appeared to reinforce recent allegations that the airline operates planes that are not airworthy, charges that have become intense since the June 3 crash.
The July 14, 2010 flight, which was billed for 3pm was delayed until few minutes to 7pm, claimed Mr. Ikeh who told the lawmakers he is an aviation enthusiast.
After the eventual boarding, the aircraft’s engines would not turn on for several minutes triggering complaints from seated passengers.
Soon, the pilot, with an American accent, apologized to the travelers, and informed them the jet’s engines were not coming on, and they were resorting to “manual starting.”
Eventually, one of the engines came alive, with the second stuttering. Mr. Ikeh said he reasoned a faulty engine that took long to ignite may be signaling danger if one engine were to go off midair since the normal procedure for starting a jet engine took minutes.
“At that point I knew that plane was not airworthy,” he said.
He informed other passengers of his fears and asked to be allowed to leave the plane. The request drew a brash response from one of the airhostesses. “Sit down!” he was ordered. He pressed on, eventually winning the backing of 22 other passengers.
The former minister, Mr. Ajumogobia, reasoned the pilot would not risk his own life, and stayed put largely on account of a hurried schedule he had to meet, which meant he needed to be in Lagos speedily enroute New York.
In the end, Mr. Ikeh said, the flight proceeded after the 23 rebellious passengers had exited and were detained until the flight made Lagos.
Mr. Ikeh said he was concerned that move possibly was to ensure no one opened up in the event of an accident, although the authorities would make it seem, the detainees could have been security threats to the flight.
“I think Dana air had long shown signs they can’t be trusted,” He said.