The spokes person of the Nigerian Airforce, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet has dismissed the allegation of sending a pilot that is not well experienced to fly chief of army staff and other dignitaries that died in the Kaduna crash.
We reported that the aircraft was scheduled to land at the military base before it crashed close to the Kaduna airport after the pilot diverted the plane for what is believed to be bad weather.
The Airforce spokes person said the pilot is well experienced and had being flying planes for years.
“On people saying a senior ranking officer should have flown the Chief of Army Staff and others, people don’t know him (the captain of the crashed plane). He and the pilot flying the President are both Flight Lieutenants. He flew more hours than some of us. He had been flying since his time at the Nigerian Defence Academy. He started flying as a cadet.
“As a captain on the Beechcraft, he had flown 2,450 hours, which was in 2019. So he would have flown nothing less than 5,000 hours since his cadet days. He had been flying the COAS and other VVIPs on that same Beechcraft. He was 29 years old. Because he had an accident doesn’t mean he didn’t have experience.
“He travelled every year for retraining. Our training involves a partnership with the manufacturers of the planes. It is rigorous; it’s not something taken with levity.”
He also debunked the say that the aircrafts in the Nigerian Airforce fleet were all old, stating that the ill-fated Beechcraft plane was one of the best in the entire world.
“The one that crashed in January was given to us by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. So, the accident wasn’t about the aircraft. Everyone is saying the weather that day was bad. Even in Abuja, it was bad.”
He further said, “The AIB said they had found the black box. But as for the time frame for the investigation, maybe I’ll find out and get back to you. Definitely, there will be a time frame. The bottom line is this: as soon as we are ready, we are going to have a joint press briefing and nothing will be hidden. Of course, you know why this latest crash is very important.
“Air accidents and their investigations are essentially to find out what caused the accidents so as to take lessons to avert similar occurrences in the future. We don’t have to massage any ego at all. If you look at it from that angle, you will know that it is painstakingly and carefully done.
“Some Nigerians have been saying we didn’t come out with the reports on past accidents. But military investigations regarding plane crashes won’t necessarily let the public know what happened because the outcomes have implications on operations, the morale of the pilots, and so many other things.
“However, on the latest accident, we have assured the public that we will let them know the outcome of the investigation so we can all take lessons from there and prevent future crashes.”