The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) had yet to receive any information from Delta Airlines regarding the emergency landing its Atlanta-bound flight made earlier this week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
AIB Commissioner, Akin Olateru, declared that the airline’s action was a clear breach of Nigeria’s aviation laws and regulations.
Delta Air Lines Flight 55 which was travelling from Lagos to Atlanta, took off at around 10.50 pm on Tuesday, and then made an air return less than an hour later because of an engine issue.
The pilot announced the evacuation of all the passengers on board within 90 seconds, after informing the control towers that their left engine caught fire mid air in-flight.
The United States carrier confirmed in a statement that all passengers were successfully evacuated with five persons sustaining minor injuries.
Olateru disclosed that it was the mandate of the AIB to take a look into these kinds of incidents. However, Delta only notified the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
“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 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13.
“Everything we do here is in accordance with ICAO Annex 13. Unfortunately, up until 3pm, this afternoon, Delta as an airline has refused to notify AIB in accordance with the law of our country. But they notified the US NTSB,” said Olateru.
Olateru added that the AIB has an obligation to brief ICAO regarding the serious incident. However, it could not carry out that task because the bureau is still waiting on Delta to provide pertinent information about the incident.
“This is a serious incident, and by law, we are investigating. There is what they call 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 the country of occurrence decides to cede that investigation to country of 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, I am disappointed in Delta, one of the world’s biggest airlines in the world, for not respecting our own nation and laws of the land.
“It is totally unacceptable, and we condemn it its totality,” Olateru stressed.
Olateru also said that he has already touched base with this counterpart in the US, Dennis Jones, the Managing Director of the NTSB, who had acceded to make sure that Delta does what it is supposed to do.