Almost 20 hours after the fire incident involving one of the two engines of Delta Air Lines mid-air, the airline is yet to report the serious incident to Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), which is saddled with the responsibility of investigating such magnitude of the incident.
Rather, Delta filed in a report to the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) in America, notifying the board of the incident.
The action of the American carrier did not however go down well with the Commissioner of AIB, Engr. Akin Olateru who insisted that the airline has violated the recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which stipulates that the state of occurrence must be carried along in such an incident.
Olateru in an interview with journalists at the Lagos airport, said that as at 3pm today, no official of the airline had contacted the agency on the incident.
He explained that the inability of the airline to inform AIB had prevented it from notifying ICAO as required by the law.
He said: “Everything we do here is in accordance with ICAO Annex 13. Unfortunately, up until 3 pm, 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 but they refused at 3 pm today, there is still no notification from Delta as to this serious incident."
“We have an obligation to notify ICAO on this serious incident, but unfortunately, we cannot fulfill that obligation because we are still waiting for Delta to give us information as to this serious incident. This is a serious incident and by law, we are investigating it.
“There is what they call the 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 for the country of occurrence decides to cede that investigation to the country of the operator or any other country.”
He lamented that since the aircraft returned to Nigeria on an emergency, its investigators were still unable to go near the aircraft, saying that information received from NTSB indicated that Delta would arrive Nigeria today with two of its investigators to carry out an investigation on the aircraft.
“But in this case, we are able, equipped to investigate this serious incident and we will investigate it but for the sake of clarity, am disappointed in Delta. It is 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 in totality and I believe the way I see it, we are being undermined, which is not acceptable. ICAO law governs all the activities of air transport business. They know that we must be notified. Our websites are there; they can download the form, they can download the App. We wrote to Delta in October last year notifying them that we have AIB App, which they just need to download on their phone and send us notification."
“It is a very simple process. Nothing can be simpler than this, but unfortunately, as of 3 pm today, they refused to notify the authorized agency by law of the land to investigate this kind of serious incident,” he added.
According to him, rather for the crew to report to AIB as required by the law, they attempted to leave Nigeria without notification until they were prevented from doing so.
Olateru was however silent on the cause of the incident but said this would be revealed by the investigation.
However, Delta has flown in another aircraft from its base at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the United States to airlift the passengers who were affected by the Tuesday’s incident.
The aircraft, an Airbus arrived the international wing of the Lagos airport at 3 pm on Wednesday.
The airline said that the passengers would depart on Wednesday night.