Setback As Dana Plane Black Box Is Burnt


Nigerians may never know why Dana flight 992 crashed in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, on 3 June, killing more than 150 people on board and others on the ground, as the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, yesterday, disclosed in its preliminary report that the Flight Data Recorder, FDR, was damaged and no data could be recovered from it during analysis in the United States.

AIB said only the Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVR, which contained a 31-minute conversation between the pilot and co-pilot was successfully analysed.

“The solid state based memory in the CVR was in good condition and retained 31 minutes of audio information.  The digital tape based memory in the FDR succumbed to the post crash fire and melted, consequently no data could be recovered,” said Captain Muhtar Usman, AIB Commissioner, who released the report.

The inability to recover data in the FDR means that the families of the victims of the ill-fated plane may never know what caused both engines to pack up almost simultaneously.

P.M.NEWS learnt that a Flight Data Recorder, FDR, also known as an Accident Data Recorder, ADR, is an electronic device employed to record any instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft.

Due to its importance in investigating accidents, the ICAO-regulated device is carefully engineered and stoutly constructed to withstand the force of a high speed impact and the heat of an intense fire.

Many are likely to wonder why the FDR, which is usually located in the tail of the aircraft was damaged when the tail of the Dana plane 5N-RAM survived the crash, said Mr. Kola Oni, a resident in Ketu, Lagos.

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P.M.NEWS checks revealed that the exterior of the FDR is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in wreckage, and the unit is usually mounted in the aircraft’s empennage (tail section), where it is more likely to survive a severe crash.

The analysis of the recorded parameters can often detect and identify causes or contributing factors to an air accident.

Following the 3 June Dana plane crash in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, the Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVR, and the Flight Data Recorder, FDR, were found and sent to the US’ National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, for analysis.

The report said that the Dana plane crashed because it lost both engines. The report did not say why the two engines packed up almost at the same time but ruled out insinuations that fuel might have been contaminated.

AIB disclosed that the McDonnell Douglas 83 took off from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, at 2.48 pm and crashed at about 3.45 p.m. just minutes to runway.

“The airplane was on the fourth flight segment of the day, consisting of two round-trips between Lagos and Abuja.  The accident occurred during the return leg of the second trip.  DAN 992 was on final approach for runway 18R at LOS when the crew reported the total loss of power.

—Simon Ateba

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