From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) yesterday explained why it is yet to release the report on the circumstances leading to the crash of an Associated Airline Embraer 120 aircraft registered 5N-BJY which occurred at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos on Thursday 3rd October, 2013.
An interim statement by the agency said though investigations into the crash has reached an advanced stage, it is still waiting for the outcome of the engine teardown including the aircraft propeller systems to be able to reach certain conclusions on the investigations.
The components were sent to Canada and the United States of America to determine why the propeller went into auto-feather during takeoff.
Commissioner of AIB, Dr. Felix Abali who spoke in Abuja at a ceremony to mark one year anniversary of the tragic incident said “On the 3rd of October 2013 about 0930hrs 5N-BJY EMB 120 on a domestic charter flight crashed into the Joint Users Hydrant Installation area of Lagos airport.
“The aircraft experienced a power loss on the right engine propeller resulting in auto-feathering activation on takeoff from runway 19L of the airport”.
Out of the 20 persons on board the aircraft with 7 crews, 16 died with 4 survivors including 2 crew members.
Abali said “In accordance with Annex 13 to the convention on International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Aircraft Accident Investigation Regulations 2006, this is an interim statement being issued at the 1st anniversary of the accident to provide an update on the status of the investigation.
The purpose of this investigation is to prevent aviation accident and incident; it is not to apportion blame or liability.
“The investigation has examined available factual, operational, and technical evidences to identify causal and contributory factors involved in the accident.
“Investigative reviews of the engine tear down, especially the aircraft propeller systems are still ongoing in the USA to determine why the propeller of the right engine auto feathered on takeoff.
Also further test and research on selected components is still being carried out with engine and aircraft manufacturers. Safety issues associated with operations of the airline at the time of the accident are being evaluated.
He explained that “The draft final report is currently in progress in accordance with ICAO annex 13 and will be released as soon as the investigation / report is completed.
It would be recalled that AIB shortly after the accident released a preliminary report based on the preliminary readout and analysis of flight 361’s flight recorders recovered from the crashed aircraft, which revealed loss of thrust on the right engine on takeoff.
The report disclosed that ‘set power‘call was made by the Captain and the ‘power is set’ call was confirmed by the First Officer as expected in normal operations. Approximately three seconds after the ‘power is set’ call, the First Officer noted that the aircraft was moving slowly.
Approximately seven seconds after the ‘power is set’ call, the internal Aircraft Voice warning system could be heard stating ‘Take off Flaps, Auto Feather’. Auto feather refers to the pitch of the propeller blades.
In the feather position, the propeller does not produce any thrust. The FDR contains several engine related parameters, which the AIB is studying.
The physical examination of the wreckage revealed that the right engine propeller was in the feather position and the engine fire handle was pulled/activated.
AIB said it is also examining the airline management’s safety culture fostered throughout the airline.
It solicits for understanding and patience from the public as it engages in thorough investigation of the crash.