There is apprehension among Nigerians over the rising cases of plane crash-landing incidents within Nigeria’s aviation industry.
In 14 days, the nation’s aviation sector has witnessed two plane accidents.
On Sunday, one incident occurred when a Boeing 737 Jet with registration number 5N-BYQ belonging to Aero Contractors Airlines crashed and landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau described the incident as ‘a serious accident.’
Similarly, another incident happened last week when a private HS25B aircraft operated by Flint Aero narrowly averted tragedy as it crash-landed on the runway at Ibadan, Oyo State.
Passengers on board, including the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, escaped death.
The development comes days after the Nigerian Aviation Authority (NCAA) warned pilots and airline operators to exercise caution over hazardous weather in the dry season.
Also, barely six months ago, 143 passengers in a Max Air aircraft with registration No: 5N-MBD escaped death after the plane crash-landed at NAIA when the plane’s tires burst and went into flames.
Although no deaths have been recorded in these incidents, the occurrences evoke fear in the minds of Nigerians over aviation safety, despite assurances by NSIB to investigate the accidents.
Godwin Ezeokafor, an air passenger who frequents the Abuja-Lagos route, said the rising cases of plane crash-landings are worrisome.
“The state of Nigeria’s aviation sector worries me. On one of my trips, the plane I boarded almost crash-landed at Abuja Airport. The matter summarizes that Nigeria’s aviation sector needs serious rejigging; if not done, it would be a death trap for Nigerians. Regulatory agencies such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Aviation Authority (NCAA), and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) must fulfill their responsibilities.
Another passenger, Abdullahi Sani, said, “From recent happenings, airplane passengers need to be careful when choosing an airline. I don’t want to mention names, but some Nigerian airlines are unsafe to board. I had two experiences while traveling from Abuja to Lagos.”
Speaking with DAILY POST on Monday, Capt. John Ojikutu, an industry expert and the CEO of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, said that the country’s aviation regulatory agencies must step up their regulatory responsibilities to ensure aviation safety.
“Pending a report from the investigation on the incidents, someone said there was a crack in the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport runway surface. If there is a crack in the runway, the runway is poorly managed and maintained. There is supposed to be periodic maintenance on the runway. FAAN is responsible for maintaining the runway crack that caused the air crash.
“However, the incident could be caused by the airline operator or the pilot. What is the pilot’s currency, the aircraft’s status, and the runway? NSIB would unravel this information,” he said.
However, reacting to an inquiry by DAILY POST on the recent cases of airplane crashes, Tunji Oketunbi, NSIB spokesperson, allayed the fear of aviation safety in Nigeria’s airspace.
“All these incidents or accidents are still under investigation, so I can’t tell you anything about their causes. However, I can say that such things can happen in any clime. That does not justify such occurrences. Since we do not have the details of what happened, it would be challenging to begin to speculate.
“However, I am still confident that the Nigerian airspace or aviation industry is very safe. Thank God we didn’t record any fatalities.
“That doesn’t mean that the regulations and the operators should not up their game and tie all knots. Safety is not a thing to be complacent about but requires proactive commitments and ever-ready vigilance,” he said.