By Chuks Okoh
In a statement signed by the president and general secretary of NATCA, Haske Jibrin and Martin Akujuobi respectively, the ATC members insisted that the ATC officers on duty complied with the provisions of the ICAO Docs. 4444 (PANS-ATM), Annex 11 (Air Traffic Services), Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (2009) and other approved Local Air Traffic Control Instructions in force in the airspace and aerodrome concerned.
According to the statement, the provisions above included the emergency response procedures approved and published for use by Duty Air Traffic Controllers in Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos in the event of Aircraft Accidents.
NATCA questioned the professional competence and experience claimed by Ojikutu on the grounds that information available to the Association does not indicate that the said Rtd. Group Capt. Ojikutu holds any valid Air Traffic Controller License, though he trained and obtained a certificate in Air Traffic Services, which is a prerequisite for further on-the-job training that leads to the award of a Civil Air Traffic Controller License.
“ The onus therefore, lies on him to furnish his listeners with his license number, ratings held and aerodromes of validation during his historic twenty-six years sojourn as an air traffic controller as he has posted before the public.”
“His phraseologies as reported by the media houses do not in any way define him as an Air Traffic Controllers that he claims to be. For example, his call for the tape transcript of conversations held between the Pilot and Lagos and Kano Control Towers shows that he does
not understand the Architecture, division of responsibilities, and transfer of control procedures within the Nigerian airspace. Neither did he demonstrate any knowledge of Accident Investigation Standards and Recommended Practices (ICAO Annex 13), as manifested in his call for unrelated Air Traffic Control/Pilot conversations tape transcript, for a time frame that will neither aid investigation nor give any further clue as to the potential role of Air Traffic Control in such an accident,” part of the statement reads.
The Controllers warned against utterances on the crash as body charged with the responsibility was carrying out its investigation describing such a strange expectation as devoid of professionalism in Accident Investigation principle of precision and accurateness on air craft accident causations.
According to them, anything beyond these bounds would have amounted to witch-hunting, which would have negated the main objective of an accident Investigation which is “prevention of future-occurrence”.
They debunked the claim that there were gaps in the tape transcript,stressing that modern Air Traffic Controller/Pilot Conversation tape-recording which NAMA employed was digitalized and tamper –proof while recording times were captured during each active transmission, while the idle periods were also captured adding that for the purposes of investigation, the active transmission times were listened to, while the idle periods bearing no messages were ignored.
The Air Traffic Controllers said the Rtd Group Captain demonstrated an embarrassing paucity of knowledge of Air Traffic Control division of responsibilities and coordination/transfer of control procedures by saying that controller abdicated his emergency responsibility to junior officer.
According to them, the Approach Radar Controller maintained the required emergency response procedures and in active coordination with the unit providing aerodrome control adding that the unit providing aerodrome control has a responsibility of carrying out the alerting duties to all rescue organizations in line with the airport’s emergency plan.
“This, the duty Tower Controller did according to available records and in record time too. Both units (Approach Radar and Aerodrome control) were manned by duly licensed and rated/validated Air Traffic Controllers, whose professional licenses vest them with the burden of being individually accountable officers irrespective of ranks. We hope that the Rtd. Group Capt. Ojikutu does not mistake Air Traffic Control with War Mission plan”.
Rtd Group Capt John Ojikutu had declared that they were irregularities in the handling of the DANA crash by Air Traffic Controllers