US embassy cable - 02ABUJA1486

NIGERIA: GON BEGINS KANO AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION; REQUESTS U.S. ASSISTANCE

Identifier: 02ABUJA1486
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA1486 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-05-16 12:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EAIR CASC PREL NI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001486 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO FAA, NTSB AND DOT 
DOT FOR KEVIN SAMPLE AND B ALLEN 
STATE ALSO FOR AF, AF/W, AF/PAS 
NSC FOR AF DIRECTOR MICHAEL MILLER 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2012 
TAGS: EAIR, CASC, PREL, NI 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: GON BEGINS KANO AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION; 
REQUESTS U.S. ASSISTANCE 
 
REF: ABUJA 1429 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER; REASONS 1.5(B) AND 
(D) 
 
 
1. This cable contains an action request.  See paragraph 8. 
 
 
 
 
2.(U) Summary: In the aftermath of the May 4 air tragedy in 
Kano, the GON grounded all BAC1-11 aircraft until a full 
investigation is completed. A final death toll has not been 
tallied and we may never know the exact number of people who 
died as a result of the crash.   Working with Consular 
Affairs, we determined that no American Citizens were killed 
in the crash. Reports indicate that both "black boxes" have 
been found, but not yet examined. The GON has established a 
panel to investigate the incident.  The United States, Great 
Britain and, according to media reports, France have been 
asked to assist in the investigation.  End Summary. 
 
 
3.(U) At least five Nigerian airlines are affected by the GON 
ban on flying BAC1-11 enacted immediately after the crash. 
Executive Airline Services (EAS), owner of the crashed plane, 
is effectively grounded; its two other craft are  BAC1-11. 
The GON also announced that over the next five years it will 
be gradually taking offline all aircraft over 22 years. 
Aviation Minister Chikwe insists this measure has been on the 
books since last month and that it is not a reaction to the 
May 4 crash. 
 
 
4.(U) Chikwe also announced the formation of a  panel to 
investigate the crash.  According to media reports the panel 
will consist of eight Nigerian officials and one 
representative each from the International Civil Aviation 
Organization (ICAO), the United States Department of 
Transportation, the British Civil Aviation Authority and the 
French Civil Aviation Authority. The panel is expected to 
determine the cause(s) of the accident and assess the 
operation of Nigeria's private aviation industry with regard 
to safety and maintenance of aircraft. (Comment:  The idea of 
forming the panel is good.  However, in attempting to give 
the public the impression that they are doing all they can 
and that the panel will have the requisite expertise, the 
Ministry jumped the gun in claiming the USG has agreed to 
furnish an expert. We clearly have not made such a 
commitment; however, we will attempt to clarify this with the 
Ministry. End comment.) 
 
 
5.(C) Unfortunately, it has not taken long for some people to 
find ways to make political capital from the tragedy. The 
House of Representatives has tasked its Committee on Aviation 
to conduct a full investigation. Meanwhile a National 
Assembly member from Kano introduced a measure calling for 
the GON to rebuild all homes damaged by the crash. 
 
 
6.(C) The United States and Great Britain have both been 
asked to help the GON conduct its investigation of the crash. 
UK High Commissioner Philip Thomas told Ambassador Jeter 
that, like us, the UK had been asked by Minister Chikwe for 
assistance investigating the crash and in establishing a 
better regulatory regime for the purchase and maintenance of 
commercial aircraft.  Thomas has forwarded the request to 
London but said that the request was too general. While the 
UK wanted to be helpful, he remarked Nigeria would need to 
make a more detailed request specifically outlining the help 
they required from the UK before London would formally agree 
to participate. 
 
 
7.(C)Ambassador Jeter agreed with The High Commissioner that 
the GON request was vague. The vagueness is a function of the 
lack of expertise on how to proceed in the face of such a 
tragedy. The Ambassador suggested to the High Commissioner 
that an appropriate interim step might be to send an expert 
or two to help the Nigerians develop a precise scope of work 
for the investigative panel and to help it precisely 
delineate the assistance wanted from the U.S., UK and perhaps 
others. Thomas liked this approach, stating that he would 
relay the suggestion to London as well. (Note:  Thomas did 
not appear to be aware that ICAO protocols may give the UK an 
affirmative responsibility to assist with the investigation 
since the aircraft was of British manufacture.  However, 
according to media reports EAS has a maintenance agreement 
with Tarom, the Romanian firm which sold EAS the BC1-11 
fleet, so the responsibility may lie with Bucharest.   End 
note.) 
 
 
8. (U) Action Request: The Embassy requests that Washington 
consider sending one or two persons to Nigeria to assist the 
GON to develop a scope of work for the Kano crash 
investigations panel.  Post also requests guidance from DOT 
to respond to a separate Ministry of Aviation request for 
technical assistance in areas of airline purchasing, safety, 
and maintenance oversight.  We understand that this type of 
assistance is already being provided under the USAID-funded 
Nigerian Transportation Assistance Program, but the Ministry 
has requested additional, expedited assistance in this area. 
 
 
JETER 

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