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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
29 January 2004 – Lake ErieThe fuselage of the aircraft that crashed into Lake Erie, killing all 10 people aboard, will be raised with the victims still inside, police said today. The aircraft and its contents will then be transported to Windsor, Ontario, where the bodies will be removed under the direction of coroner Dr Tom Wilson. Provincial police divers attached straps to the aircraft late yesterday and moved it about 8 m along the lake bottom towards the Coast Guard vessel Samuel Risley, which is heading the recovery operation. The Cessna Caravan 208, sitting next to the vessel on the lake bottom, was inspected again today and found to be still structurally sound. Sections of ice were being cut from the surface of the lake to open a hole through which the aircraft can be lifted. Georgian Express Flight 126 crashed on January 17 shortly after taking off from Pelee Island. Police said eight of the aircraft’s passengers were returning from a hunting trip.
31 January 2004 – Atlantic Ocean, Lagos, NigeriaA 25-seater passenger aircraft has plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. Air traffic control was trying to determine the origin of the aircraft, an official at Lagos international airport said. The craft went down along a busy East-West commercial West African flight path that is also used by multinational oil companies to fly workers to and from facilities in Nigeria’s oil delta. It was unclear how many people were on board the aircraft. A witness said he saw a white, yellow and blue twin-engine aircraft “shaking” and wobbling in the sky shortly before the crash. The craft reportedly soon vanished off Lekki, a neighbourhood on the Eastern edge of Lagos. Police called for divers to search the seas for survivors, a police official said.
31 January 2004 – Nigerian rescue workers searched Atlantic waters off the city of Lagos today for bodies and any wreckage of a light aircraft that plunged into the ocean yesterday, but experts said there was no trace of the doomed aircraft. One aviation watchdog official said the accident was a mystery, as no aircraft had been spotted in Nigerian air space and no operator had reported an aircraft missing. A boat carrying divers bounced over the waves searching for clues under the gaze of hundreds of onlookers on a nearby beach. The rescue operation was delayed yesterday following doubts over the crash. Witnesses said the aircraft wobbled in the air for several minutes before it smashed into the ocean where it submerged completely. Nigerian aviation officials were unavailable for comment, but industry watchers said there was still no clear picture of the type of aircraft, its operator and number of crew and passengers on board. The executive director of industry watchdog Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative, Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, said air traffic controllers (ATC) in Lagos were ignorant of the plane’s presence in the oil exporter’s air space. “This is a freak, the plane is a mystery,” Agbeyegbe said. “Certainly it did not depart from Lagos, if it did the ATC would have had information on the aircraft and its travel plan.” He said the aircraft may have taken off from a neighbouring country because no Nigerian airliner has reported the loss of its aircraft. Sources said Nigerian air space was regularly violated by airlines from the West African region. Local media had reported that the ill-fated plane was a 25-seater on a flight from the commercial hub of Lagos to the oil city of Warri, raising fears its passengers may have been oil workers. Oil multinationals contacted told Reuters they had no knowledge of the crash.
4 February 2004 – The Federal Government yesterday dismissed claims of last Friday’s (January 30) aircraft crash into Goshen Beach, Ajah, near Lekki, Lagos, describing it as a “hoax.” Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Aviation Minister Alhaji Isa Yuguda said that though no laboratory tests had been conducted on the oil found on the lagoon to determine whether there was really an aircraft crash, reports of all relevant agencies that investigated the matter were negative. Yuguda, flanked by the Director, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr Angus Azoka, and Managing Director, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed, said the mystery aircraft crash could send wrong signals to the outside world that the country’s navigational aids and facilities were not functioning well. He said all relevant aviation authorities swung into action as soon as they learnt of the reported crash. “It is instructive to note that throughout yesterday as with other days, the terminal approach radar, the communication and navigational facilities at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, were all serviceable and in use at the material time,” Yuguda declared. Yuguda, however, disclosed that NAMA’s search and rescue unit was open to the public for information on the mystery crash. The minister, however, said that on receipt of the information of the purported crashed aircraft, the following scenarios came to their mind at the ministry. First, it could be a case where a Nigerian-registered aircraft crashed into waters around Goshen Estate, but that available information showed that all Nigerian-registered and operated aircraft that operated in and out of Southern airports returned to base at the end of the day: it is a fact that up till now, four days after the alleged crash, no operator has reported any of its aircraft missing. Second, it could be a case where a foreign aircraft crashed into waters around Goshen Estate. This is a case of a foreign aircraft that is assumed to fly though Nigerian airspace without making contact with air traffic control for whatever reason. Again, four days after the purported crash, no country has declared any aircraft missing. Third, it could be a case where an unfriendly aircraft crashed into the waters around Goshen Estate. This is a case of an aircraft that may be involved in smuggling, drug peddling, espionage or other illegal activities and may therefore not wish to be identified by filing a flight plan with our air traffic control. In this scenario, there would still be a departure and a destination point. So far, nobody has reported any aircraft missing. Fourth, it could be a case of somebody who saw something which may not be an aircraft. Available evidence from a construction worker on top of a roof of a building at the Goshen Estate revealed that he saw a big object drop into the water with an accompanying vibration and smoke. At the same time, he said he saw a vessel stop briefly by the location and then move away. So far, no vessel has reported any such incident, as is mandatory for it to do.
10 February 2004 – Sharjah, United Arab EmiratesAn Iranian plane has crashed near Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates, killing at least 34 people. The Kish Airlines flight was coming in to land after a flight from the Iranian Gulf island of Kish at about 11.00 hours (07.00 UTC). Local media reports say that at least two people survived the crash. Television footage showed several dead bodies, and flames and black smoke pouring from the wreckage of the front of the plane. Rescue helicopters and ambulances have gone to the scene. Rescuers wearing surgical masks over their mouths were seen battling through the smoke as firemen doused the wreckage with water hoses. The plane crashed in an uninhabited area between Sharjah and the neighbouring emirate of Ajman. Initial reports said it had crashed on take-off. It was believed to be a German-built short-range Fokker 50, designed to carry up to 60 people. It was said to have between 40 and 50 passengers on board, though no mention has been made of the crew.
10 February 2004 – An Iranian Fokker 50, carrying migrant workers back from a visa-renewing journey to Kish Island, crashed today while approaching Sharjah airport, killing 43 of the 46 people on board and narrowly missing nearby homes. Three survivors of Kish Air’s Flight IRK1770 were hospitalized, two in a critical condition with burns and fractures. Authorities recovered the cockpit voice and data recorders and hoped they would reveal why the aircraft, which had not reported any trouble on its final approach, crashed two miles from Sharjah airport and burst into flames. According to a passenger list released by the airline, 25 of the 40 passengers were travelling on visa change package deals that included air fare and cheap hotels in Kish. According to the list, on board were 13 Iranians, 13 Indians, four Egyptians, two Algerians, two Bangladeshis, two Filipinos, one Nepalese, one Syrian, one Nigerian and one Cameroonian. Six Iranian crew members also were on board. Two men, an Iranian and a Filipino, were being treated at the coronary care unit of al-Qasimi hospital, emergency room attendants said. Another man, badly burned on his face and body and with multiple fractures, was on a ventilator in intensive care, the attendants said. Police fenced off the crash area. At dusk, they set up generators and floodlights to aid investigators. A crane picked through the wreckage, lifting chunks of the broken aircraft. Only the tail and cockpit area were recognizable, with the rest too badly burned. Mohammed al-Ghaith, a senior civil aviation official, said the pilots had not sent out an emergency call. The aircraft was on its final approach when it suddenly banked to the left and hit the ground. The aircraft was 11 years old, according to the Dutch company Stork, which owns much of Fokker’s assets, far newer than most of Iran’s aging fleet. Stork spokesman Koos Huurdeman said major maintenance was carried out by Fokker Services, which is a division of Stork, and that Kish Air handled minor maintenance. In Tehran, Kish officials refused comment.
19 February 2004 – Linate Airport, Milan, ItalyHuman error and inadequate airport procedures led to a runway collision at Milan airport in 2001 that killed 118 people, an official report has found. The report by the Italian national air safety agency, ANSV, also blamed dense fog for the incident at Linate airport. A Scandinavian SAS plane speeding down the runway in fog collided with a light aircraft, killing everyone on both planes and four baggage handlers. Eleven airport staff have been charged with manslaughter and negligence. A verdict is expected within weeks. The victims included Italians, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, a Romanian, a Briton, an American and a South African. On 8 October 2001, the SAS plane, an MD-87, was taking off on a flight to Copenhagen with 110 people on board when a Cessna business jet crossed its path. After the collision, the jetliner careered into a baggage handling hangar. The 182-page report said the pilot of the Cessna bore the main responsibility for Italy’s worst civil aviation disaster. Yesterday’s report also highlighted grossly inadequate airport procedures, poor runway layout and miscommunication between air traffic controllers and the pilots. “The Cessna was instructed to follow a path with no adequate signs and markings to allow the path’s identification,” it said. Investigators also found that controllers had used Italian as well as the standard English to address the Cessna crew, and the crew was not asked to read back the tower’s instructions. The airport’s ground radar system was out of service, even though the airport is frequently hit by fog, the report said. It also listed 12 recommendations aimed at ensuring that airport safety procedures were up to international standards.
26 February 2004 – Stolac Area, BosniaAn aircraft carrying Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski crashed in mountainous terrain in Southern Bosnia today, a Government source in the capital Skopje said. Asked about reports that the president’s aircraft had crashed, he told Reuters: “Yes. Somewhere near Stolac.” Stolac lies amid mountains East of Croatia’s Adriatic port of Dubrovnik. “The president was in the aircraft with several staff members. We have no word on survivors. A helicopter is on its way,” the Government source added.
26 February 2004 – Charlotte-Douglas Airport, North Carolina, USA (N233YV)US Airways Express Flight 5481 took off normally from North Carolina’s Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Within seconds, however, its nose pitched up sharply and the aircraft stalled, then rolled left and plummeted into a maintenance hangar. All 21 people on board were killed in the crash on 8 January 2003. The National Transportation Safety Board was meeting today to report its findings about the accident. Investigators were expected to point to flawed maintenance and improper weight distribution on board the twin-engine Beechcraft 1900D (N233YV), operated by Air Midwest. The findings would be similar to those outlined in a preliminary report. The safety board will accept or reject the investigators’ conclusions and make recommendations for safety improvements. The aircraft was within 100 pounds of its limit when it took off. The cockpit voice recorder transcripts show pilot Katie Leslie and co-pilot Jonathan Gibbs discussed the issue on the runway. Their conversation turned frantic as the aircraft took off. Investigators believe the aircraft’s tail was too heavy because of the way the passengers and bags were distributed. Too much weight can change a small aircraft’s centre of gravity and make it much more difficult to fly. The pilots could not compensate because of improperly rigged cables that controlled the aircraft’s up-and-down motion. Because the cables were too slack, the pilots did not have full control of the elevators, according to investigators. Safety board investigators found that a contract mechanic, several nights before the accident, may have improperly adjusted the elevator cables while the plane was at the airline’s Huntington, West Virginia, maintenance facility. However, there may be several reasons for the mechanic’s mistake, including inadequate oversight of the maintenance facility by the company and the Government. Air Midwest contracted maintenance to Raytheon Aerospace, now known as Vertex Aerospace, which hired mechanics from Structural Modification and Repair Technicians Inc. The Transportation Department’s inspector general reported in July that the Federal Aviation Administration does not adequately oversee the growing number of outside contractors repairing commercial aircraft. “If there’s a systematic problem out there with either oversight of these third-party maintenance facilities or systematic problems with the ways manuals are maintained, hopefully that’s what we want to see fixed,” said Captain Terry McVenes, Executive Air Safety Vice Chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilots’ union. FAA spokesman Les Dorr said it was up to the airline to make sure maintenance work is carried out properly. FAA inspectors visit sites based on where they can best allocate resources to mitigate risk, he said. Air Midwest’s parent company, Mesa Air Group, announced this week that it will no longer contract out its maintenance. In addition, the maintenance manual for the Beechcraft 1900 has been revised to clarify rigging procedures. The Charlotte crash also prompted changes in the FAA’s guidelines for assessing the weight of passengers and baggage, adding up to ten pounds to its estimate for people and five pounds to luggage. The weights are used to gauge whether an aircraft is overloaded.