Retired air officer questions age of pilot in Army plane crash

A retired group captain from the Nigerian Air Force Sadeeq Shehu has raised questions regarding the age of the pilot who flew the late Chief of Army Staff Ibrahim Attahiru.

Shehu, who graduated alongside Attahiru from the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA), made this remark when he featured on Channels TV’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday, to speak about preventing further military air accidents in Nigeria.

Last Friday, Attahiru and 10 other military officers died in an air crash around the Kaduna International Airport.

According to Shehu, before one could be rated as a pilot, the person must have flown a minimum of 1500 hours and done  practicals.

He said the late pilot of the crashed aircraft Flight Lieutenant Taiwo Olufemi Asaniyi was 29 years old and had flown 2450 hours of the Beechcraft. He was qualified, but the other issue worthy of the debate was his experience, Shehu said.

He noted that the issue about the age of the pilots could be questioned because, in civil aviation, the average age of the pilot was between 45 and 50 years.

He further argued that pilots, during the course of their years of experience, had been caught in situations where they made close calls.

“It is the misses and near misses that cumulate their experience and judgement in times of urgency like that. We might debate the age of the pilots, at 29, especially in the military environment. In aviation, the pilot is the commander in chief, irrespective of the personality he is flying.

“This is a lieutenant general and flight lieutenant. With that lack of rank, there would be a tendency to force it, but an older pilot, the gap of rank not that too much, probably he would have more confidence to tell the chief of staff that he couldn’t fly the aircraft.”



    When asked about the recorded 11 aircraft accidents in six years and the critique of the Beechcraft aircraft, Shehu said the Beechcraft had a good safety record.

    He noted that since its establishment in 1962 to date, it had sold about 3100 aircraft across the world, while there had been 523 accidents involving it till date.

    “What you should know is till date, most of the accidents had nothing to do with the engine, propeller but it had to do with pilot error and weather,” Shehu said.

    In the last five months, there have been three military air crashes that  killed about 20 personnel of the Air Force and the Nigerian Army.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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