There is a growing concern in Nigeria over the rise of military jet crashes that have been taking place since 2015. This became more apparent after the Beechcraft Aircraft fatally crashed in Kaduna, killing the Chief Army of Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other officers aboard.
The latest crash was the second time Nigeria would lose an army chief in an air crash. In May 1968, an air crash had cut short the career of then army chief, Joseph Akahan exactly one year into his reign. Although they have been crashes involving Air Force plane from time-to-time, the frequence is now increasing, given rise to concerns within the security and aviation circles. Stakeholders have raised the alarm and advocated for thorough investigation to stem the tide and improve the safety record of the military. They also advocated for instituting proper maintenance culture to avert further disaster.
Since 2015, there have been eight accidents involving military planes, four of which happened in Kaduna, two in Abuja, one in Adamawa and one in Borno state. Also in 2018, a Nigerian Air Force, F-TNi aircraft taking part in the rehearsals for the aerial display to mark Nigeria’s 58th independence anniversary celebration was involved in a crash, killing the pilot.
Moreover in 2021, the military has recorded two fatal crashes in the space of three months. On February 21, a Nigerian Air Force King Air 350 went down near the Abuja airport killing seven people who were young officers on board. They were said to be embarking on a mission in Minna, Niger State.
Also, on March 31 2021, NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, announce that an Alpha Jet aircraft on a mission against Boko Haram had lost radar contacts. 2 officers were on board of this missing jet which was later declared crashed. Days later, Boko Haram released a video showing the crashed jets and dead crew members.
It was learnt that the Beechcraft aircraft on Friday landed a minute before 6 at the Kaduna International Airport but suddenly lifted off the runway and came down immediately near the perimeter fence and burst into flames. An air traffic official said it was a weather issue, which could either be the passage of wind shear or line squall.
Furthermore, an aviation expert and former managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Captain Ado Sanusi stressed the need to take a holistic review of the entire operation of the Air Force with a view to ascertaining, if there are specific problems that need to be addressed.
Aviation watchers as well believe the Air Force should properly investigate other Beechcraft King Air planes on its fleet in order to prevent further crashes.
The Accident Investigation Bureau said it is on standby to provide technical assistance to the Nigeria Air Force in investigating the ill fated crash.