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US Experts Arrive, Insurers Visit Crash Site

Posted by By Ndubuisi Francis in Lagos and Andy Ekugo in Abuja on 2005/10/27 | Views: 994 |

US Experts Arrive, Insurers Visit Crash Site

Investigators from the United States National Transport Safety Board (NSTB) last night arrived the country to unravel the causes of last Saturday's plane crash in Lisa village, near Ifo, Ogun State which claimed the lives of 117 passengers and crew on board.

* Boeing pledges support, condoles bereaved families

Investigators from the United States National Transport Safety Board (NSTB) last night arrived the country to unravel the causes of last Saturday's plane crash in Lisa village, near Ifo, Ogun State which claimed the lives of 117 passengers and crew on board.

Also, Tuesday, a team from Llyods of London arrived the country to begin assessment on the crash preparatory to the payment of compensation to the victims of the crash.

The three-man NSTB team, which came on the invitation of the Federal Government, will visit the crash site this morning with Aviation Minister Babalola Borishade.

THISDAY gathered that the minister is going with the team to ensure that all agencies involved in the investigations will cooperate with them.

The arrival of the team followed a request made through the U.S Embassy in Nigeria by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which asked for technical assitance from the United States.

The Llyods team which visited the crash site yesterday is to meet with representatives, lawyers and families of victims of the crash.

Although the 1999 ICAO Convention stipulates $10,000 compensation for each of the victims of a crash such as the one on Saturday, its flexibilty allows both parties (families of the deceased and the insurers) to negotiate.

Sources told THISDAY that dependants and successors of victims of the crash have already started collecting and filling forms for compensation. The process was said to have begun on Monday.

Meanwhile, Boeing Inc., manufacturers of the Bellview B737-200 aircraft has pledged its full support to unravel the cause of the air mishap. It also expressed sympathy to the families and friends of victims of the crash.

Boeing which has offered what it called investigative technical assistance to Nigeria to unravel the circumstances surrounding the crash said in a condolence message which was posted on its website that it was commiserating with families and relations of victims of the accident
"Following the crash on Saturday of a Bellview Airline B737-200 aircraft in which 117 souls perished in Lisa Ogun State, Boeing, the manufacturers of the aircraft sends its condolence to the families and friends of victims of the accident", Boeing said.

It pledged its full support in unraveling the cause of the accident by offering technical support and also sending a team of investigators to Nigeria to aid local authorities in their investigation.

The move, according to the organisation, will however be done in coordination with the United States National Transport Safety Board (NSTB).
The text of the statement reads: "Boeing extends its sympathies to the families and loved ones of those aboard the Bellview Airlines 737-200 that crashed October 22 north of Lagos, Nigeria.

"In co-ordination with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board we have offered technical support to the local authorities and are preparing to send a team to the scene.

"Facts and figures about the aircraft showed that the B737-200 is listed in the out-of-production list of Boeing.

"The latest version of the model is B737-900. The Boeing 737 is the best-selling jetliner fleet in the world according to Boeing and much of the credit for this achievement belongs to the 737-200, which accounted for 1,114 of all 737s ordered as at the time. Total order of the model now stands at over 5,500 with the latest versions accounting for most of the order."
Highlighting facts about the B737-100/200 model, Boeing described the model as the most successful in its production line.

"The first flight of the Boeing 737-100 occurred April 9, 1967. With pilots Brian Wygle and Lew Wallick at the controls, the airplane took off from Boeing Field in Seattle and flew for 2-1/2 hours before landing at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

"The 737 was designed as a logical short- range airplane to complement larger 707 and 727 jetliners.

"The 737 was certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in December 1967 after more than 1,300 hours of flight testing by a six-airplane fleet.

"For the first time, certification included approval for automatic approaches in bad weather under Category II conditions - defined as 100-foot ceilings and 1,200-foot forward visibility. The first 737-100 was delivered to Lufthansa December 28,1967, and began commercial revenue service on February 10, 1968.

"The last 737-100 model was produced in 1969 and delivered in November that same year. Interestingly, the last 737-100 delivered was actually the first 737 Boeing produced. The aircraft had been used by Boeing as a test airplane before being delivered to NASA on July 26, 1973, for use as a test and training aircraft by the space agency. Boeing delivered 30 737-100s".

In another development, regional airlines' body, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has decried the state of search and rescue machinery in Africa. It also said that Nigeria with a robust airline industry deserved a better search and rescue mechanism than is presently obtainable.

Secretary General of AFRAA, Christian Folly-Kossi told newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed Airport yesterday that African countries are yet to put in place an effective search and rescue mechanism to handle emergencies, including air mishaps.

He stated that it was time African countries "sit down to address the rescue issue." He added that "some progress is needed in this area".
"Readiness to rescue is not there. It is an African issue. Search and rescue is a major problem in Africa. Statistics on accident in Africa is bad", he said.

He lamented that Africa has provided a fertile ground for old aircraft, particularly those from the former Soviet Union which have been phased out in some other parts of the world.

Folly-Kossi said that AFRAA would recommend the ban in Africa, of aged aircraft that are above two decades old.

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