COAS death: Nigeria, China record fatalities as Beechcraft reports 23 accidents in five months

THE death of Chief of Army Ibrahim Attahiru in the ill-fated Beechcraft KingAir B350i plane crash in Kaduna, alongside 10 others aboard, shocked the nation, but two crashes in three months reveal a disturbing trend associated with the aircraft purchased by Nigeria.

Data obtained from the US-based Aviation Safety Network, an air accident tracking database, show that in the first five months of 2021 globally, there were 23 recorded incidents of air accidents involving the Beechcraft King Air 350i aeroplane series.

Only three of the accidents were fatal, resulting in 23 deaths that involved two Nigeria Air Force -NAF Beechcraft KingAir military B350i jets and a 350i jet belonging to China’s Metrological Agency, CMA.

While the fatalities in Nigeria led to the loss of 18 lives, the air mishap in China involved the death of five people.

Of all the other incidents recorded, there were no fatalities apart from the damage to the Beechcraft aircraft involved in the crash.

The Beechcraft King Air 350i is a twin-propeller aircraft made by Textron Aviation, a unit of the U.S.-based Textron Inc conglomerate and the model was first released around 2009.

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According to a report, analysis of recent and past Beechcraft King Air accidents since October 2014 shows that the air crashes occurred mostly during takeoff and the initial climb. 

On February 21, NAF 202 Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport after reporting engine failure en route Minna, according to preliminary findings.

The crash led to the death of seven crew members on board, who were deployed to the North-West for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

Information released by the NAFshortly after the crash indicated that the accident was caused by engine failure.

The NAF spokesperson Edward Gabkwet, in an interview, said NAF would be meticulous in carrying its investigation jointly with the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB.

“In the meantime, we are not rushing into taking a certain decision that would hamper our own operations…We should not take our eyes off the ball, we must remain focused on whatever we are doing, not take rash decisions just to please few critics on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. No, we won’t do that,” he said.



    Chief of Army Staff Ibrahim Attahiru was among the military officers who died last week when a NAF 203 Beechcraft KingAir B350i scheduled to land at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Mando, Kaduna, was diverted and crashed at the Kaduna International Airport.

    The military officers were supposed to be on their way to Kaduna ahead of the passing-put- parade of soldiers from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria before the incident occurred.

    However, Gabkwet revealed that the two crashed Beechcraft aircraft had different designations, saying the one that crashed in February was configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance while the aircraft in last Friday’s crash in Kaduna was a passenger aircraft.

    According to service statistics, the aircraft serviceability rate of the Nigerian Air Force rose from 35 per cent in July 2015 to 82 per cent as of February 2020.

    NAF had purchased three Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft in August 2014, mainly for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions across the country. However, one of the aircraft was transferred from the presidential air fleet in 2015.

    With the crash of NAF 201 and NAF 203 within an interval of three months, the fleet, which is a part of NAF’s 209 Executive Airlift Group (EAG), is based at Abuja-Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and is left with NAF 202 and NAF 204 jets.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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