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Families Devastated By Nigeria Plane Crash ‘Search For Information'

Aviation Specialists Urge Investigators To Release Information To Help Improve Flight Safety


Leading aviation law experts, asked to help support the families of the victims of the Dana Air crash in Nigeria, have called for accident investigators to release information as soon as possible to share any insight into how flight safety can be improved.
Jim Morris, a barrister and a  leading member of the specialist Aviation Law Team at Irwin Mitchell, with extensive experience of representing those affected by plane crash disasters around the world, has accepted an invitation by the Nigerian Leadership Initiative to a Families’ Forum it is hosting to assist the families of the victims of the Dana Air tragedy.

The Families’ Forum is being held on 14 July 2012 at the Muson Center in Lagos and has been organised to assist the families and dependants of victims and to provide specialist advice on the accident, their options and rights resulting from the tragedy. Non legal issues including the provision of counselling and welfare services will also be addressed within the forum.
The Dana Air tragedy occurred on 3 June when a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft flying from Abuja in central Nigeria came down in a suburb five miles north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in the capital city of Lagos, killing 153 people onboard and a number of people on the ground.  It is reported that the crew transmitted before the crash that the aircraft had lost power in both engines.
 Jim Morris, who is also a former RAF Boeing pilot, will speak with families at the forum about the accident and the investigation.  To assist the families and improve flight safety, he is now urging Nigerian accident investigators to release the contents of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR), saying the information they contain will be crucial in providing an early indication as to what caused the crash.
Morris said: “Our thoughts are with the victims’ families, who are seeking answers to why and how the disaster happened.  I commend the NLI for organising the event and it is my hope that this Families’ Forum will lead to sustainable support for the families and assist them in obtaining the answers and advice about the accident that they need. 
“It is absolutely vital that there are prompt answers to help the families come to terms with their losses and to improve the flight safety in future.
“Although air accident investigations do take time and the final report is not likely to be available for at least one year, we urge the authorities to publish a preliminary report including the contents of the CVR and FDR as soon as possible so that the aviation community can start learning from this accident.
“The FDR and CVR data is crucial real time evidence of what was happening but the investigation team will also need to analyse in detail other factors of the accident, such as engine status, serviceability of the aircraft systems (particularly the fuel system), the aircraft maintenance, actions of the pilots, and the safety oversight and training.
It is important that any lessons which can be learnt to improve flight safety are shared as soon as possible.”
Dana Air’s licence was suspended as investigations got under way into the incident, but Morris says the cause of the crash can only be confirmed once the appropriate information is released by the investigation team.
Clive Garner, Head of the Irwin Mitchell aviation law team is also working on the Dana Air case. He commented: “As well as obvious concerns about the Dana Air tragedy in Lagos, we have also seen an alarming number of other commercial airliner disasters over the last three months. These include the Sukhoi Superjet crash in Indonesia and the Bhoja Air Boeing 737 crash in Pakistan. Taken together these three major accidents have resulted in over 300 tragic deaths.

“Each death has caused immeasurable sorrow, heartache, distress and, in many cases, financial hardship for the families of those who lost their lives. We are very grateful to the Nigerian Leadership Initiative for their invitation to us to help the families of victims of the Dana Air disaster and we will use all of our expertise and many years of experience to assist those who have been affected by this tragedy.”
Irwin Mitchell’s aviation law team is also currently representing more than 30 families who tragically lost loved ones in the Bhoja Air, Boeing 737 tragedy which occurred on 20th April 2012 in Pakistan.