The deadly crash of an airliner in Nigeria yesterday demonstrates once again the need for vigorous enforcement of safety regulations.
On Sunday, a flight of Dana Air that was headed to Lagos, Nigeria from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, crashed approximately 11 miles from the Lagos airport. All 153 of the people on board were killed, including an undisclosed number of United States citizens. The jet hit a densely populated area of Lagos, killing additional people on the ground. The exact number has not yet been determined.
The jet was a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 built in 1990 according to some sources, and in 1983 according to another. It was purchased from Alaska Airlines, where it reportedly was involved in an incident that necessitated an emergency landing. More recently, it was said to have experienced mechanical problems in the weeks before the disaster, but just days before the crash, the aircraft purportedly passed an inspection.
The pilot of the airliner, Captain Peter Waxtan, was an American. Minutes before the crash, he declared an emergency, caused by engine trouble, when making a final approach for landing. Officials are recovering the “black box” in order to investigate the circumstances further.
The safety of Nigeria’s air traffic has come under criticism. Only one day earlier, a cargo plane operated out of Lagos crashed in Ghana, hitting a bus. Ten people were killed.
These tragedies remind us that the safety of those who fly, as well as those on the ground, depends upon the rigorous enforcement of safety regulations. Safety standards for both the aircraft, and those who fly them, must be maintained at the highest levels. To do so, companies which profit from flight operations must be held accountable for all of their decisions which increase the danger to passengers, crew members, and all of those impacted by air travel.