Search

 

Cablegate: Nigeria Adc Air Crash Shakes Confidence in Sector

VZCZCXRO5971
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2867/01 3050751
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010751Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7641
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 5413
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0374
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0306
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEANHA/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002867

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DOT PASS TO FAA
DAKAR PASS TO FAA REP ED JONES
ROME PASS TO TSA REP JOHN HALINSKI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR CASC AMGT ASEC NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA ADC AIR CRASH SHAKES CONFIDENCE IN SECTOR

REF: ABUJA 2830

1. (SBU) Summary. Nigeria's troubled aviation sector suffered
another major blow with the October 29 crash of a Sokoto-bound ADC
Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft just beyond Abuja International
Airport, which killed at least 98 persons. Minister of Aviation
Babalola Borishade blamed the crash on pilot error and said ADC's
operating license was suspended "indefinitely." North American
Airlines' Nigeria country manager predicted that because Nigerian
travelers have long memories for aviation tragedies, the ADC crash
may cause the airline to go out of business. This crash, on the
heels of other serious ones in the past 53 weeks, show the problems
within Nigeria's aviation sector are fundamental. End Summary.

2. (U) Nigeria's troubled aviation sector suffered another major
blow with the October 29 crash of a Sokoto-bound ADC Airlines Boeing
737 aircraft at Zuba village, just beyond Abuja International
Airport and on the outskirts of Abuja. The ADC flight was carrying
101 passengers and five crew members. The crash killed at least 98
persons, including the sultan of Sokoto, the Sokoto State Deputy
Governor, three senators, one son of former Nigerian President Shehu
Shagari, and other prominent politicians.

3. (SBU) Henry Seymour, North American Airlines (NAA) Country
Manager, told a Lagos economic officer that ADC itself will bear the
brunt of fallout from the crash, rather than the domestic aviation
sector as a whole. Seymour said ADC already was weakened following
a November 1996 crash, when one of its jets plunged into a lagoon
outside Lagos, killing all 143 persons aboard. The NAA official
said Nigerians have long memories for aviation tragedies, will
likely avoid flying ADC in the future, and that the most recent
crash may spell the end for ADC Airlines.

Aviation Minister Blames the Pilot
----------------------------------

4. (U) Minister of Aviation Babalola Borishade reported at an
October 30 news conference that a preliminary investigation found
the ADC pilot requested permission from the Abuja control tower to
take off. The tower controller granted permission but gave a wind
report warning of adverse weather, including thunderstorms and
lightning around the airfield. Borishade said the pilot disregarded
the warning and took off, before crashing fewer than two minutes
after takeoff. The minister announced that the Government of
Nigeria (GON) had suspended ADC Airlines' operating license
"indefinitely."

Aircraft's "Black Boxes" Recovered
----------------------------------

5. (U) The local press reported that government officials carried
out rescue operations swiftly. Borishade said rescue operations
began almost immediately after the control tower lost contact with
the ADC aircraft. An official with the Nigerian Accident
Investigation and Prevention Bureau (AIPB) later said the GON had
recovered the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder and flight data
recorder.

Fourth Serious Crash in 53 Weeks
--------------------------------

6. (U) The ADC crash was Nigeria's fourth serious one in the past 53
weeks. On October 22, 2005 a Bellview Airlines Boeing 737-200
crashed close to Lagos, killing all 117 people aboard. On December
10, 2006 a Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft crashed
adjacent to Port Harcourt International Airport, killing 107 people.
Then, on September 18, 2006 a Nigerian military Dornier 228
aircraft crashed into a mountain in Benue State, killing 13 out of
18 senior military officers aboard.

NTSB Investigation Team Arrives October 31
------------------------------------------

7. (U) A four-member U.S. National Transportation Safety Board team,
including representatives from Boeing and Pratt and Whitney, arrived
in Abuja on October 31 to assist the AIPB in investigating the cause
of the ADC crash. Also, a U.S. Federal Aviation Authority employee
is scheduled to arrive in Nigeria on November 1 to join the NTSB
team. The NTSB team leader said the GON had provided him with a
copy of the government's findings concerning the December 2005
Sosoliso Airlines crash in Port Harcourt. Embassy Abuja does not
yet have a copy of the GON's report.

ABUJA 00002867 002 OF 002

Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Compared to Western aviation standards, it is chilling that
Nigeria's three catastrophic air crashes killed more than 300
persons total - and involved three different airlines with small
numbers of aircraft, in a very small aviation sector. GON officials
contended repeatedly after the Bellview crash - and then again after
the Sosoliso crash - that Nigeria had achieved significant progress
in boosting safety within its domestic aviation industry. The ADC
crash demonstrates these claims to be hollow and the problems within
Nigeria's aviation sector to be fundamental. Nigeria already has a
badly deficient road network and a nonfunctioning rail network.
Now, its airline sector continues to exact a high price from those
persons who wish to fly within Nigeria and from those who feel they
have no choice but to do so. Reforming Nigeria's airline industry
will not be fast or easy, and the impending change of national
administrations will not aid this process.

CAMPBELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>