Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Suntai ignored hired pilot’s warning —Report
IT emerged on Tuesday that the recent crash of Cessna 208, a private jet piloted by Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State could have been prevented if he had heeded the professional advice of his hired pilot not to fly to Yola airport at sunset.
According to reports, the hired pilot had earlier warned the governor against flying to the airport when it was obvious that they could not meet with the visual flight mandatory for that type of aircraft which is not in the instrument flight category.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that this advice was allegedly jettisoned by Governor Suntai who was said to have immediately taken over the cockpit and embarked on the ill-fated journey with the said pilot refusing to join the flight because of the obvious risk.
Yola airport is not in the category of airports where flights can be operated for 24 hours because it is not well-equipped which makes it a no go area after 6.00 p.m.
Only Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt are on 24-hour flight operations.
According to the country's aviation policy, small jets like the Cessna plane Governor Suntai piloted on the day in question was only allowed to fly based on visuals from morning to 6.00 p.m. daily.
And once the sun sets, it is always difficult to fly smaller aircraft like the governor's plane.
The governor, who has since been flown to Germany for adequate treatment in view of the injury he sustained in the crash, obtained a private pilot licence from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, which allows him to fly himself.
The ill-fated plane which departed Jalingo, Taraba State, for Yola, Adamawa State, was reported to have lost contact with the Yola Control Tower (1720Z) and field in sight at 38 miles, estimating landing at 1730Z before crashing.