Nigerian Air Force F7 crashes, killing pilot


A Nigerian Air Force Chengdu F7 fighter crashed while taking off from a flight school last week, killing its pilot.

The F7-Ni was taking off from 303 Flying Training School at Kano’s Mallam Aminu International Airport around midday last Tuesday when it failed to lift off, crashed and exploded. The pilot died in the crash, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas told the Associated Press. He was named as Group Captain Enny Bibinu Saleh and served as an instructor.
“The Nigerian Air Force headquarters has already set up an accident investigation panel to unravel the circumstances that led to the accident,” Anas said. “Further details on the crash will be made known as soon as the family of the deceased pilot is informed.”

The aircraft was been brought from an air base in Makurdi on March 18 for a two week flying training exercise.

A number of flights out of Kano had to be postponed while workers extinguished the fire and cleared the debris.

The Nigerian Air Force ruled out the possibility of grounding the F7 fleet, Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshall Mohammed Dikko Umar said. “We have not discovered what actually caused the crash until comprehensive investigations are carried out to ascertain what actually happened. But we don’t believe there was anything wrong with the aircraft. So there is no need for us to ground our aircraft when we have not found anything in the preliminary investigation to indict the aircraft. That is why we are continuing with our operations. The F7-N fighter jets we are flying are very good aircraft. We have confidence in the quality of the aircraft that we have.”

Nigeria has one of the biggest militaries in West Africa and recently ordered 15 Chengdu F7s from China, comprising 12 F7-Ni fighters and three FT-7NI trainers to replace its grounded Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21s. Deliveries were completed in the middle of last year. The Nigerian Air Force also recently acquired ATR 42 maritime patrol aircraft and AgustaWestland AW109 light utility helicopters as part of a modernisation programme, and bought an extra Aeritalia G.222 and five Eurocopter Super Pumas, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.