Thieves break into Arik airplane in Lagos, strip cockpit gadgets
Suspected thieves have broken into an Arik Air aircraft parked at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, stealing valuable gadgets.
The break-in, according to findings, has left the Boeing 737 aircraft grounded without its Flight Management Computer (FMC) and other accessories.
Arik spokesperson, Banji Ola, yesterday, confirmed the security breach, saying the matter has been reported to appropriate authorities.
The Guardian learnt that the Boeing 737-73V, with registration number EI-ULN, was raided between 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday night when the airplane was parked, and 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 20, 2022, when the break-in was first noticed.
The FMC is a fundamental component of a modern airliner’s gadgets. It is a specialised computer system that automates a wide variety of in-flight tasks, reducing the workload on the flight crew to the point that modern civilian aircraft no longer carry flight engineers or navigators. A primary function is in-flight management of the flight plan.
Aviation stakeholders said the break-in and removal of the FMC could only have been done by an insider with technical know-how.
The Lagos airport has had security issues lately. The Guardian had earlier reported multiple vandalisation of vehicles at the fee-for-service Seymour Aviation Multi-level Car Park at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Motorists and travellers alike complained about forced entries into parked cars, removal of car accessories and personal effects, coupled with harassment of users.
In December, Arik Air filed an occurrence report with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over attempted robbery of its taxing aircraft by unknown men that encroached the runway at the Lagos airport.
According to reports, runway robbers attempting to open the cargo compartment of the taxing Boeing 737-800 was the second of such foiled attempts recorded by the local airline in two weeks.
On December 16, it was the case of an ignorant auto-technician test-running a faulty car on Runway 18L and heading for a collision with an oncoming Max Air jet.
Former Commandant of the Lagos Airport in the ‘90s, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), who is also an aviation security consultant, said there are houses behind the airport perimeter fences that have exceeded standard security limits.
“Some of these houses are either using the fences as part of their building or as fences for their houses. That is why incursion into the airport and taxiing aircraft are rampant.
“There is need for FAAN security to conduct random checks on all those carrying On Duty Cards (ODC) within the airport security controlled areas, to fish out unauthorised persons, especially those that have been out of the services of their employers but are still carrying the ID cards and the airport’s ODC,” Ojikutu said.