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Cablegate: Nigeria: Minister of Aviation Requests U.S.

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 001430

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958:
TAGS: EAIR PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: MINISTER OF AVIATION REQUESTS U.S.
ASSISTANCE TO INVESTIGATE EAS AIRLINE CRASH


1.(u) Ambassador received an urgent call from the Nigerian
Minister of Aviation Kemi Chikwe with an appeal for
assistance in investigating the Saturday, May 4 crash of
the EAS BAC1-11-500 aircraft in Kano. The EAS aircraft
crashed almost immediately after takeoff, killing all 79
passengers and crew on board and approximately 30 people on
the ground (SEPTEL).


2. (u) Chikwe requested an aviation expert in airworthiness
and an investigator for the crash site, which is spread
over several kilometers in a residential section of the
city of Kano.


3. (u) The Minister said that a Special Panel to
investigate the crash was being set up. Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court Muhammad Uwais will head the Special
Panel. The Panel will begin meeting next week and hopes to
complete its work in three or four weeks.


4. (u) In addition to investigating the cause of the EAS
crash, Chikwe said that the Panel will also investigate the
sourcing of aircraft by domestic carriers as well as their
places of maintenance. Chikwe also asked for assistance in
identifying better sources for aircraft and maintenance.
She said there are safety concerns about present sources
for both aircraft procurement and maintenance, which are
mainly British, American and Eastern European. (Note:
There are also several airlines that use former Yugoslav
commercial aircraft. End Note.)

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5. (u) Comment: We would like to be responsive. If nothing
more, American experts can perhaps help the GON better
define its terms of reference and scope of work on what
appears, at first glance, to be an enormous and very
complex undertaking.


6. (u) Chikwe's request, which was not unexpected, would
seem to fall squarely within our "safe skies" initiative.
The EAS aircraft was British manufacture, and we would be
surprised if Chikwe also has not approached the British for
assistance (we will endeavor to find out).


7. (u) We have long maintained that most domestic
commercial airlines in Nigeria are unsafe. A thorough
investigation into aircraft procurement and maintenance
practices is long overdue.
JETER

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