Contrary to speculations that IRS Airlines had resumed operations few days ago after allegedly acquiring a new plane, ENCOMIUM Weekly’s check on Friday, May 30, 2014, revealed that the airline is still battling the suspension. We were also told that the airline has not gotten another plane after the one that crashed few weeks back. Rather, we gathered that they are still counting their losses as the government of Niger Republic has refused to grant their Nigerian counterparts the right to investigate the crash.
Acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Engr. Benedict Adeyileka has revealed that the investigations into the IRS plane crash will be handled by the civil aviation authority of Niger Republic.
He said the investigation into the IRS plane crash was being handled by Niger Republic noting that the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau (AIPB) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, would assist in the investigation.
According to him “As soon as we have an update on the pilot, we will let you know. The investigation is being handled by the Niger Republic because it is within their territory, the NCAA and the AIPB are offering assistance, so we have a team together and we are trying to contact them so that we can work together but the most important thing to note is that it was not within Nigerian territory”.
After losing over N1 billion since its suspension over eight months ago, the Alhaji Isyaku Rabiu- owned IRS Airline’s hope of resumption suffered a huge setback as one of its planes, a Fokker 100, 109-seater aircraft worth N4.9 billion with registration number 5NSIK crash landed on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 7.30 pm near a remote village of Dosso in Niger Republic.
Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that the aircraft was returning from a C-Check when it crash landed. According to our source, the plane attempted an emergency landing in a forest near a small village close to River Isah, about 100km from Dosso when its engines packed up.
Inside source disclosed that only three crew members, including two pilots and an engineer were on the ill-fated plane. Interesting, they all survived.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s check confirmed that the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar has reason to celebrate as his first son, Captain Jamil Abubakar was the co-pilot.
Confirming the incident on Sunday, May 11, 2014, the IG, through the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba said, “The IGP is full of gratitude to God for preserving the life of the pilot and his son, the co-pilot of the IRS plane that crash landed yesterday in Niger Republic.”
On Sunday, May 11, 2014, spokesperson for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Fan Ndubuoke also confirmed the incident. “The aircraft was returning from a C-Check when it crash-landed in Niger. No life was lost as the three persons on board, the pilots and the flight engineer survived the crash. NCAA and the Accident Investigation Bureau are already investigating the incident with support from the airline.”
We reliably gathered that the aircraft was on its way to Kano to complement the only aircraft in their hangar at the moment for final approval from relative agencies so they could commence operation by July 2014. An official of the airline divulged that the crash had dealt a death blow to IRS, which had planned to resume operations on the arrival of the ill-fated aircraft, which would have doubled the number of its aircraft to meet the minimum requirement of NCAA.
“We were waiting for the aircraft to arrive Saturday so that we could resume operations as soon as possible. We already have one that had gone through C-Check. This is a great setback to us as we have lost a lot of money and manpower.”
IRS Airline, which is one of the indigenous carriers that have operated for a long time, stopped scheduled services on October 14, 2013, due to technical problems with its fleet. The airline, which operated three Fokker 100 aircrafts, stopped operations when its aircraft developed hydraulic problem while landing at the Kaduna Airport last year, prompting the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to ground its operation. The agency gave them the condition that two of their aircraft must undergo C-Check and be in good working condition before the suspension could be lifted. We reliably learnt that they have lost over N1 billion in revenue and most of their staffers have been hijacked by other domestic airlines in operation.