144 passengers unhurt as Max Air plane crash-lands in Abuja
Many flights cancelled Safety bureau probes incident
There was panic at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday when a Max Air aircraft, with 144 passengers, experienced tyre bursts after landing.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737-300, with registration number 5N-MBD, was arriving from Yola, Adamawa State, when the incident happened.
The Aerodrome Rescue and Fire-fighting Service operatives at the airport were swiftly mobilised to put off the fire as a result of the tyre burst.
A former president of the Nigeria Medical Association, Mike Ogirima, was among over 60 members of NMA on board the flight.
Ogirima, who narrated the incident, said the aircraft lost the first tyre after takeoff at Yola Airport before losing the second tyre on landing at the airport.
In a video, Ogirima said: “We thank God. We’re still on the runway and the pilot has reassured us. He has called for the stairs and we’re now disembarking from the runway to be evacuated to the airport building at the arrival hall.
“We bless God because we’ve witnessed the pull out of the tyre right from the airport in Yola and we went into a prayer session...”
The passengers were safely disembarked from the runway; while the runway was temporarily shut for the aircraft to be towed after investigators from the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau.
There was also a Notice to Airmen issued to notify airlines of the temporary shutdown of the runway causing flight delays and cancellations yesterday.
Another passenger, who shared his experience, said, “At takeoff, one of the left back tires flew away. The other tyre burst into flames on landing. The funny thing was that a lot of people saw it while we were moving away from the airport. Thank God a lot of people showed maturity, no struggling to get out of the plane.
“I hope the airline will take necessary measures to mitigate these types of accidents. The emergency services of Abuja airport and the pilot actually did a lot to save our lives.”
Max Air confirms incident
Max Air, in a statement, confirmed the incident, saying its aircraft left Yola around 2:05 pm and was scheduled to arrive in Abuja at 15:00.
It said “all passengers and crew on board the aircraft are safe and sound.”
It said had taken all necessary steps to ensure the passengers were comfortable and “are being taken care of during this time. They’ve been conveyed to the arrival terminal with their luggage and belongings.
“The aircraft tires are being replaced and the aircraft will taxi to the ramp for further investigations before being released for future flights.
“Max Air is committed to providing safe and reliable air travel to all its passengers. We thank all the passengers for their patience and understanding for what transpired.
“The airline would like to extend its appreciation to the airport authorities, emergency services, and all relevant agencies who responded promptly and professionally to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew on board.”
As of the time of filing this report, the NSIB officials, including those of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, were on ground.
Safety Bureau begins probe
General Manager, Public Affairs of NSIB, Tunji Oketunbi in a chat with our correspondent, said: “We’ve commenced investigation and in due time we would release the report.”
Incident massive cancellations
The incident triggered massive flight cancellations and delay across the country.
Mostly affected were sunset airports with no night landing facilities.
For instance, Air Peace announced the cancellation of several flights in a notice sent to its passengers yesterday.
The notice read: “Dear triggers
flight esteemed customers, the following flights have been, regrettably, cancelled due to Abuja runway closure caused by another airline’s aircraft that got stuck on the runway.
The flights were Owerri-Abuja 14:20hrs; Abuja-Owerri 16:00hrs; Abuja-Benin 15:45hrs; Calabar-Abuja 14:40hrs; Abuja-Calabar 16:10hrs; Benin-Abuja 16:20hrs; Abuja-Owerri 14:40hrs and Warri-Lagos 16:20.
“The runway closure has also led to the delay of other flights into and out of Abuja.
“We empathise with passengers affected and seek their understanding and cooperation.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, later confirmed that the aircraft had been removed, saying, “They are cleaning the runway now at around 8:15 p.m.”