Passengers stranded as plane witnesses bird strike in Kano
•Stakeholders back NCAA on Azman Air’s suspension
Scores of passengers, were yesterday, stranded at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, as the Aero Contractors plane they were travelling in, recorded a bird strike and made an air return.
Though the Boeing 737 aircraft landed safely shortly after take-off, it, however, aborted further commercial operations in line with standard safety practice.
According to eyewitnesses, the Lagos-Kano flight N2142 reported an engine issue after 15 minutes into the trip. In line with standard procedure, the aircraft had to be certified for re-entry.
At the time of filing this report, the airline was yet to make an alternative arrangement for the trapped travellers. The management, which regretted the inconveniences in a statement, said it was working out a way to airlift the passengers.
It added that they had made arrangements to ferry the aircraft back to Lagos for engineers to run checks on the engines and secure the approval of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) before returning it to service.
“When the captain heard the sound of the bird strike, he made a safety and professional decision to return and land in Kano, despite all the engines being normal and within limit.
“After close examination, with the approval of NCAA and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the aircraft was ferried back to Lagos for further examination. We are currently doing everything possible to bring our passengers back to Lagos,” the statement added.
IN a related development, pilots, engineers and other stakeholders in the aviation sector have backed the suspension of Azman Air by the apex regulatory agency over alleged safety breaches.
They said though the clampdown further shrinks local capacity, the action, the players added, was to protect workers, travellers and the public.
The regulator recently grounded all Boeing 737 series airplanes in use by Azman over reported serial safety infractions. The airline, according to the NCAA, recorded three serious incidents in six weeks, a development it termed “a disturbing safety record and a dangerous signal.”
The affected company had informed customers that it was shutting business while the audit lasted. Its chairman, Abdulmunaf Yunusa, in his reaction, denied the allegations, accusing the NCAA Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, of personal vendetta.
But the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said the regulator’s action was in order. The president, Abednego Galadima, stated that his association read with “total dismay the unbelievable response of Azman Air to the legitimate and professional regulatory safety oversight function performed by the NCAA on its operations.” He regretted that the airline chose to view the action through “parochial prism.”
The NAPE chief continued: “The sentiments expressed by the airline are unnecessary and unhelpful to the critical safety issues raised by the authority, given the cited myriads of incontrovertible safety breaches.
“Again, to interpret the patriotic NCAA’s act of ensuring that Nigerian pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers are considered first in employment in line with expatriate quota laws and Executive Order No 5 as vindictive is to demonstrate crass disdain for our Aviation trainer and Chief Executive Officer of WestLink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, also backed the suspension.
“There are two sides to a story. I don’t draw conclusions without hearing from both sides and analysing issues at stake critically. The NCAA has issued a statement as to why it grounded Azman. You will find out that NCAA could be vindicated,” he added.
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