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A witness in the ongoing inquest into the cause of the crash of the Dana Air plane, which occurred in Iju/Ishaga area of Lagos, Mr Rafiq Olubukola Arogunjo, an air traffic controller with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), on Tuesday, told the coroner the details of his discussions with the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft before the crash.

He narrated to the inquest, presided over by Mr Alexander Oyetade Komolafe, the last 15 minutes of the flight 0992 before it crashed on June 3.

Arogunjo, in his testimony, said that he received a distress call from the pilot at 3.42 p.m local time, adding that three minutes after, the aircraft went off the radar.

The traffic controller said when he got the call, the plane was at about 11 nautical miles to touch down, adding that he thought it would crash inside the airport.

According to him, the call was transferred to Aerodrum Controller, consequent upon which emergency agencies, including fire services, search and rescue team and others were deployed in the landing field.


He further said that when he got the distress call, he spoke with the pilot who told him that the aircraft had dual engine and throttle failure, stating that prior to the call, the pilot was given descent to flight level 5,000 feet and its arrival was expected on runway 18L for landing, but two minutes later, the pilot requested for approach on runway 18R and was obliged.

“At 3.43 p.m local time, I observed the aircraft on radar with dropping speed and altitude. Then at 3.45 p.m, the aircraft went into coasted status, that is, fading from the scope, and later disappeared.

“I informed tower about this and a few seconds later, tower said they could see the aircraft on the extended centreline of the runway with dark smoke,” he said.

Speaking on why the radar could not monitor the aircraft up till the time it crashed, he said “what we have is a terminal approach radar. It will not show the object on the ground. The one that will show objects on the ground is a surveillance radar. We have had training on its use, but we don’t have it in Nigeria.”

Arogunjo also disclosed that an Ibadan-bound private helicopter volunteered to be vectored to the crash site for observation and assistance, adding that “although the location of the crash was not in doubt, we had the coordinates and we had passed it to other parties.”


Another witness, Dr Oluwafemi Osanyintolu, the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), told the coroner that though they got to the crash site early, the crowd at the scene was an impediment to rescue operations.

Osanyintolu added that emergency agencies on ground, including firemen, Rapid Respond Squad, ambulance men, state Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) and policemen, could not access the aircraft immediately because of the surging crowd.

He further said they had to call the state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who deployed the Disaster Rescue Unit of the Nigerian Army to assist.

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