NAF jet crash: More experienced pilot should’ve been used —Experts

Abuja plane crash site

Following Sunday morning crash of Nigerian Air Force jet at Bassa village, near Abuja airport runway, which claimed seven officers, military observers have been asking why very young officers without much flying experience were deployed for the hazardous mission of searching for the kidnapped Kagara School students in ungoverned dangerous forests in Niger State.

Among the personnel on board, the most senior officer was Fly Lt. Haruna Gadzama, the captain, who was among 14 pilots that were ‘Winged’ by the NAF only in 2018 after completion of flight training in Nigeria and South Africa. Others were Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Michael Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist, Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist) and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

An expert, who pleaded anonymity, wondered why senior and more experienced pilots, such as a Squadron Leader or a Wing Commander, was not assigned the role of flight captain, to be assisted by one of the flight lieutenants, which is  often the practice.

Another expert noted that if a more experienced pilot was put in charge, the impact of the air crash would most probably have been less fatal as he would have managed the crisis better, since the aircraft was a relatively small plane. Experienced pilot would’ve jettisoned fuel, prevented explosion “For instance, an experienced pilot would have jettisoned the fuel as the aircraft was struggling mid air before crash landing and this would have prevented the fire explosion that consumed both the plane and the officers,” he said. Vanguard

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