The Director of Flight Operations, DANA Air, Oscar Wilson, has said that the McDonnell Douglas (MD83) aircraft that crashed at Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, on Sunday was “serviceable and operational”.
Mr. Wilson, who disclosed this at a news conference at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Monday said that in spite of being 22 years old, the aircraft was still functional.
He explained that the aircraft was in a good condition before leaving Abuja for Lagos on Sunday.
“The aircraft had flown to Ibadan on Saturday without hitches contrary to rumours that it was undergoing repairs. On Sunday, it was a different story entirely as the aircraft had started operations as early as 7.47 a.m.
“On Sunday, 5N-RAM flew at 7.47 a.m., left Lagos to Abuja on flight 999 and Abuja back to Lagos on Flight 998. The aircraft went back to Abuja flight 993 and was coming back before the fatal flight 992.
“We don’t allow our aircraft to fly if not in perfect condition. We don’t take risks with people’s lives. I did the test flight of the questioned aircraft myself, there was nothing wrong with the aircraft, it was okay,” he said.
Mr. Wilson said that the management of the airline would do its best to assist the authorities to unravel the cause of the crash.
He denied rumours that the airline had been sanctioned by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), adding that it would be inhuman if its planes started flying immediately.
“Immediately after the crash, we suspended all operations and cancelled the remaining flights. At least we needed to put human feelings for the lost souls.
“If we do not stop operations, that means we have no respect for the lost souls and for Nigerians,” he said.
Tony Usidamen, the Communication Manager, also defended the airline.
“We are hearing rumours of a sanction because our aircraft are faulty but that is not true, we did this to honour the victims of the flight”.
The Managing Director of the airline, Jacky Hathiramani, in an earlier statement, expressed his sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased.
“The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of flight 9J-922 of Sunday June 3, 2012.
“The aircraft, with registration number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers on board. It has one Dana Air Flight Engineer, two pilots and four cabin crews were also on the flight.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased and we are doing everything to assist them in this extremely difficult time,” he said.