Arik Air Flies With A Disabled Pilot, May lose Licence In US, Uk and Nigeria

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Airk Air may lose its operating license both on local and international routes  if a federal Court in  Michigan Court hearing a case filed against it by one of its former and captain Pilots is determined in the plaintiff’s favour. Even though, the civil lawsuit is for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Plaintiff, Captain David Ajidagba has told the Court that   Arik Airlines compelled him to fly a plane when he was not fit to do so which is a violation of air safety standard rules and regulations and later fired him for “incapacity” instead of providing him with medical treatment.

Mr. Ajidagba is being represented in the lawsuit by two US lawyers, Detroit lawyers Benjamin Whitfield, Jr., and international human rights lawyer, Kayode Oladele. In an interview, with Mr. Oladele, he berated Arik Airlines for not living up to its expectations as an employer and airlines operator who should put the safety of its passengers first above all other considerations.  “It is against safety regulations to allow a pilot who is not medically fit to fly an aircraft. From the flight schedule, it was obvious that the captain and his crew were suffering from fatigue as a result of excessive overtime before stopping in Ghana. Crews are not legally allowed to use medication to help them get through their work day which is why fatigue in itself continues to be one of the most insidious hazards to flight safety. Thereafter, he fell and suffered an injury. Under no circumstance, should he have been allowed to operate the aircraft again that day let alone with passengers on board. Hence, the captain reported the injury and asked Arik to replace the crew but he was forced to fly with several unsuspecting international passengers on board from Accra, Ghana to Abuja, Nigeria. Anything could have happened in the course of the flight. The captain has not recovered since then. He has difficulty walking or using his limbs without assistance as he has been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, disc bulges with thecal indentation , peripheral neuropathy of the lower limbs etc” said Oladele.

According to the Complaint which according to Court records was served on Aril Airlines on August 14, 2012, on March 23rd, 2010, Captain Ajidagba and his Crew  had a night stop in Accra, Ghana after several days of excessive flights without rest. After the aircraft shut down and the crew disembarked from the plane, Ajidagba remembered that he had left his cell phone on the aircraft’s nose wheel steering pedestal, so he went back into the aircraft’s cockpit to retrieve his cell phone. After locating and picking up his phone, he turned to get out of the cockpit but unknown to him, a water bottle inside the cockpit had fallen and spilled water on the floor of the cockpit thereby making him to slip. He fell backwards on his back and hit his back head on the column and his back on the center pedestal. He managed to get up and did not feel as if any serious thing that would later turn out to be a life changing event had happened to him. However, later that night while in his hotel room, he could not sleep due to pains and observed a swollen on his left hand.

In the morning of the next day, Ajidagba complained of his medical condition to the management of Arik Airlines and immediately requested for a crew change to fly the plane back to Nigeria. However, his employers, Arik Airlines insisted that he must fly the plane back to Nigeria with his condition not minding the danger it could cause to the lives of the passengers and crew. He had no option but to fly the aircraft to Abuja in that condition despite the risks involved. After successfully taken the plane back to Nigeria, he was left in pains for several hours at the airport without any medical assistance.

Following the injury, he was diagnosed with difficulty in Walking due to Peripheral Neuropathy of the lower limbs, paresis to the lower limbs and hypo-aesthesia to both hands secondary to Cerebra-vascular accident as well as  accute cellulites. He also was also diagnosed with Myopathy which required several sessions of Physiotherapy (Hand grip Exercise, strengthening exercise to the lower limb and general fitness exercise).

According  to the Captain, Arik has  failed to provide medical coverage for him as he continues to spend his meager resources to fend for himself, his family and take care of his medical needs without any support from the  Company. He maintains that his condition would have improved tremendously had Arik Airlines performed its obligation under his employment Contract by providing medical coverage for his treatment.

Ajidagba said, ” I have  suffered severe damages as a result of the Arik’s breach of the Contract and will continue to suffer damages for the work related injuries I sustained in the course of my employment with the Arik and I pray the Court to enter judgment for special and general damages against the Defendant in such sum as shall be found to have been caused by Arik’s beach and repudiation of employment Contract.”

An aviation expert, Mr. Hillary Okon who spoke with NigerianEcho said such attitude as displayed by Arik is one of the reasons we have frequent air mishaps in the Nigeria.  He said that  Arik Ailines should not have  compelled the pilot to fly the aircraft after the captain had  made it clear that he was not medically fit to fly. This according to the expert was a violation of air safety regulations anywhere in the world and could cause Arik Airlines its operating license is found to be true. He stated further that safety regulations prescribe that Arik Airlines should have assigned another captain  to fly the plane back to Nigeria.  the plane even if it meant delaying the flight for another day. This must be taken serious so that sanity will begin to come to the aviation industry and will also serve as a deterrent to others”

All attempts to speak with Mr. Chris Ndulue the acting Managing Director of Arik Air proved abortive.

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