The competence of the pilot of the crashed Dana Air plane was a subject of controversy on Thursday during the proceedings of a Coroner’s inquest into the deaths that resulted from the incident in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos State on June 3.
On one hand, a former pilot and a witness, Captain Tito Omaghomi, who was testifying for Femi Falana’s law firm – an interested party in the inquest – said the cockpit crew failed to take standard steps to salvage the emergency situation preceding the crash.
On the other hand, counsel for the Accident Investigation Bureau, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, faulted the claim, questioning Omaghomi’s flying profile to draw such conclusion.
Omaghomi, who was relying on the preliminary report of the AIB, told the Coroner, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe, that the content of the 31-minute Cockpit Voice Recorder, revealed that the pilot did not make use of the “emergency checklist” of the plane as he ought to.
Led in evidence by Falana, Omaghomi said, “About 90 per cent of what is done in a plane is not done off-hand. . There is nothing to show the air crew adhered to check list.
“The crew discussion, from what is on the CVR as contained in the AIB report, is a disorganised cockpit in the sense that it became a flight nobody had control.”
He described the checklist as a manual provided by the manufacturer of the plane which a pilot must always resort to when flying.
He also said record of the pilot, who was employed by Dana on March 14 and started flying “in late May 2012″, according to the AIB report, breached the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
According to him, the pilot accrued over 120 hours within the period he started flying for Dana.
He added that 55-year-old the pilot flew Dana’s commercial flight for about 13 days, and accrued over 120 hours contrary to ICAO standard which stipulates maximum of 100 hours in 30 days.
During cross-examination, Irukera said the late pilot had over 18,116 hours of total time, including 16,416 hours of pilot-in-command time.
He added that Omaghomi, who confirmed he last flew a commercial flight with the Nigeria Airways on April 14, 1991, had a total flight time of 14,800 hours.
Irukera, who also represents the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, confronted Omaghomi with a report of the incident he said led to the end of Omaghomi’s service with Nigeria Airways.
Irukera said, “The report said you overshot the runway by 2,900 metres. The report also said you did not follow laid down procedures when the emergency arose. The report also said you did not use the checklist. This was the reason why you left the Nigeria Airways.”
Omaghomi confirmed the incident, but claimed he had never seen the report. He also said he was commended by the manufacturer of the plane, Airbus model, which was carrying 125 passengers during the incident, for managing the situation well.
Omaghomi said he had 32 years experience.
The proceedings were adjourned till August 14.