NCAA probes Air Peace’s cabin pressure incident
Operator denies safety breach, near-mishap claims
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has commenced an investigation into the Air Peace airlines’ recent cabin pressure incident on one of its aircraft en route Enugu from Lagos.
The apex regulatory body said the probe became necessary following public outcry over safety of the operating aircraft, though the airline has denied these claims.
Video clips making the rounds on social media showed an emotionally-charged cabin, with some passengers singing praises to God shortly after arrival at Enugu.
The airlines, however, explained that the aircraft experienced a change in cabin pressure and its flight crew had to do the normal technical manoeuvre by descending to a level comfortable enough for passengers on board.
General Manager, Public Relations of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said a proper investigation would unravel the issue. He said the probe would be thorough, “including the review of the videos making the rounds in the social media.”
“The investigation will be conducted in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015. At the conclusion of the investigation, the recommendations will be fully implemented,” he said.
NCAA assured passengers that all aircraft operating in Nigeria are unairworthy, that is, fit to fly, adding that its Ramp inspections had been strengthened accordingly with the seasonal increase in the volume of passengers.
The agency further warned operating airlines to observe the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), as any infractions would be treated in line with the provision of the Regulations.
Air Peace debunked insinuations that the aircraft involved in the incident might not have been properly maintained, explaining that the aircraft secured a renewal of its Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) on December 10.
The airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Chris Iwarah, added that the aircraft also went for its mandatory comprehensive maintenance checks (C-checks) abroad, and got its certificate of release to service (CRS) in September 2017.
C-checks are normally done on aircraft every 18 months. At the end of the checks, a CRS is issued to confirm the maintenance done.
Iwarah said: “On Friday, December 14, 2018, our Lagos-Enugu flight experienced a change in cabin pressure. Where there is a change in cabin pressure, the oxygen masks will automatically drop from the panel for use by passengers on board the aircraft. This is exactly what happened on Friday.
“During safety briefings, passengers are advised to pull on the mask to trigger the flow of oxygen. The flow of oxygen is expected to last about 12 minutes within which the flight crew would descend to a comfortable altitude, usually below 10,000 feet above sea level. Change in cabin pressure is a common occurrence in aviation across the world, including the UK and America.
“Once there was a change in cabin pressure, the oxygen masks on the aircraft automatically deployed. And in line with standard safety procedure, our flight crew performed a technical manoeuvre by descending to a level comfortable enough for passengers on board.
“We, however, observed cases of some passengers who did not properly fit their oxygen masks. A few others, perhaps out of panic, pulled too hard on the oxygen masks, causing the equipment to snap. This led to the unfortunate claims that there was no flow of oxygen from the masks. For the avoidance of doubt, the oxygen generators are part of the items of interest during C-checks. So, it could not have been right that there was no flow of oxygen.
“While it is quite expected and understandable that passengers would panic on occurrence of incidents such as a change in cabin pressure, the claims of a near-crash were a regrettable misrepresentation of facts, which really should not be. The aircraft was ferried from Enugu back to Lagos in less than an hour of safely landing at destination.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused our loyal customers as a result of the incident, and wish to reassure them that we place huge premium on the lives of our esteemed guests and crew and will never do anything to put them in harm’s way,” he said.
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