- Nigerian Air Force has said that investigation into the plane crash that killed ex-COAS, Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others on Friday, May 21
- This was disclosed on Friday, May 28, by the NAF director of public relations and information, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet
- Gabkwet, however, denied the report that the young pilots who flew Attahiru and other officers did not have the qualifications and the required experience
Barely one week after a plane crash killed the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military officers on Friday, May 21, the Nigerian Air Force has reacted to the controversy surrounding the age of the pilot.
The Punch reports that the NAF said the capability of its pilots should not be called into question despite the recent NAF plane crashes in the country.
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Legit.ng gathered that a NAF Beechcraft King Air 350i had crashed at the Kaduna civil airport after the pilot diverted from the military airport due to bad weather.
TheCable also reports that the NAF director of public relations and information, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet, however, said the flight captain who flew the ill-fated military plane, Taiwo Asaniyi, was a Flying Lieutenant with thousands of flying hours.
The young pilots have qualifications to fly Army chiefs including president
He said the late pilot and some of his colleagues, including the pilot who flies the president, had been flying since they were cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy.
According to him, the pilots’ qualifications and capabilities should never be called into question, adding that most of them had flown more hours than even many seniors.
“On people saying a senior ranking officer should have flown the Chief of Army Staff and others, people don’t know him (the captain of the crashed plane). He and the pilot flying the President are both Flight Lieutenants. He flew more hours than some of us. He had been flying since his time at the Nigerian Defence Academy. He started flying as a cadet.
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“As a captain on the Beechcraft, he had flown 2,450 hours, which was in 2019. So he would have flown nothing less than 5,000 hours since his cadet days. He had been flying the COAS and other VVIPs on that same Beechcraft. He was 29 years old. Because he had an accident doesn’t mean he didn’t have experience.
He said the pilot travelled every year for retraining, adding that the training involves a partnership with the manufacturers of the planes.
Gabkwet also denied insinuations that the planes in the NAF fleet were old, noting that the ill-fated Beechcraft plane was one of the best in the world, saying that the planes were bought brand new just about six years ago.
Investigation into the plane crash has begun
He also said an investigation into the accident had commenced in collaboration with the Accident Investigation Bureau, and that information would be retrieved from the black box and control tower tapes.
Osinbajo's wife visits families of deceased military officers
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Dolapo Osinbajo, the wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, paid condolence visits to the families of the military officers who died in the plane crash on Friday, May 21, in Kaduna.
It was reported that the Office of the Vice President indicated that Mrs Dolapo, immediately after hearing about the plane crash, made it a point of duty to visit the families of the departed military officers, consoling their widows, relatives, offering relief and emotional support.