Crashed Associated Airlines Linked To Former Edo State Governor: How A Detailed Reports On Fraud In Maintenance Of Aircraft Was Thrashed Aside


Plane-crash-360x225A report submitted by a staff of Associated Airlines in 2009 detailing the fraud involved in the maintenance of aircraft at the airline might have prevented the fatal crash that claimed 15 lives on October 3 when the Embraer 120 twin prop aircraft plunged to earth less than three minutes after takeoff.

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The Ikeja–Lagos based Associated Aviation Limited, which is linked with the corrupt former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, has reportedly cut corners in the maintenance of the 23-year-old aircraft. According to aviation records, it was last flown on August 30, two weeks before the crash.

Nigerian aviation officials often collude with influential airline owners by looking the other way in lieu of bribes frequently taken from aircraft owners. For instance, it took the effort of a whistleblower within the defunct Air Nigeria for the aviation authorities to revoke the airworthiness licence of Air Nigeria in the wake of the fatal Dana Air crash in 2012.  The licence was however swiftly restored shortly under mysterious circumstances, to the consternation and outrage of families who were left bereaved or impoverished by the crash.

A staff member ostensibly fighting against the airline management released a damning consumer review on the website, as follows:

Associated has advertised its aircraft for sale. These airplanes can only be described as dangerous and requires that a buyer beware notice be posted. Anyone looking at these aircrafts must underline the need to examine the aircraft logbooks with a magnifying glass. The records that exist are fraudulent at the least.

According to the engineer, the following are the issues:

Engines – the crew never kept the records required by the Engineers for oil and other analysis. As a result, the true state of the Engines is unknown. Pratt and Whitney has the engines on a program but had no records from the airline to ensure the integrity of the Engines. At the present time, the program has also been cancelled for failure to make payments.

Maintenance: As a former Engineer and former Staff, now employed by a better airline, I will be first to tell you that our supervisors insisted on the use of none manufacturer or OEM parts obtained from local electronic stores. Very little records were kept, the entire LLP records are a fabrication; all these were possible because the local Civil Aviation Authority looked the other way.

Required x-rays were never performed. Matters that should have been looked into were overlooked. The aircraft needed rigging. If you want confirmation talk to a former pilot of the Company that now works for Capital Airlines.

He also stressed that the former MD and partner, Tunde Oremule, lacked regard for the lives of his customers, his employees, and the law. “When we insisted on doing the right thing, he harassed and intimidated his staff,” he said, adding, “If only passengers could see the maintenance records! The regulators have but they pay lip service to safety.”

Bottom line, he warned, “Buyer beware!”

Although the review described the situation as “dangerous,” the aviation regulators did nothing to check the airline’s maintenance records until the crash of October 3.

Associated Airlines 5N-BJY was running a charter flight SCD-361 from Lagos to Akure, bearing for burial the body of former Ondo Stage governor Segun Agagu; it rapidly lost height shortly after takeoff from Lagos Airport, and then came down at 9:32am, catching fire.  Fifteen of the 20 people on board were confirmed dead by the authorities.

A second aircraft which departed earlier with other family members including the widow of the deceased and their two daughters reached Akure safely.  Their oldest son survived the crash with serious but no life-threatening injuries.

Curiously, the coffin of the deceased was recovered intact, and was subsequently taken to Akure for a subdued burial.

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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