The Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Okateru, on Wednesday lambasted Delta Airlines for disrespecting Nigeria.
He lamented that 20 hours after the company’s aircraft left side engine caught fire minutes after take off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the airline failed to notify the Nigeria’s regulatory bodies on the incident.
In a chat with newsmen, the AIB Commissioner said: “Yesterday (Tuesday) night, Delta Airline Flight DL 55, an A330-200 departed Lagos at 21.51UTC with 219 passengers on board. Registration number of the aircraft is n858NW.
“Aircraft reported fire warning on-board and made an emergency landing at the time and that was at 21.19UTC. Passengers have been evacuated and fire put under control. Some passengers sustained minor injuries during the evacuation. This is all we have at the moment.
“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 ICAO Annex 13. Everything we do here is in accordance with ICAO Annex 13.
“Unfortunately, up until 3 pm, this afternoon, Delta as an airline has refused to notify AIB in accordance with the law of our country. But they notified the United States National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) but they refused as of 3 pm today, there is still no notification from Delta as to this serious incident.
“We have an obligation to notify ICAO of this serious incident but unfortunately, we cannot fulfil 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. There is what they call the 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 for the country if occurrence decides to cede that investigation to the country of the 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 but not respecting our own nation and laws of the land. It is totally unacceptable, and we condemn it in its 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.
“It is a very simple process. Nothing can be simpler than this but unfortunately, as of 3 pm today, they refused to notify the authorized agency by law of the land to investigate this kind of serious incident.
We have a responsibility to report this kind of serious incident to ICAO.
“We cannot fulfil our own obligation because this incident occurrence has not been reported to us officially by the operator. I am in contact with my counterpart in the US, Mr Dennis Jones, MD of NTSB. He agreed with me and he will make sure that Delta do the needful.”