The Guardian (Nigeria)

Int’l flights diverted as Air Peace plane makes emergency landing

• Aircraft’s nose-wheel damaged on runway

- By Wole Oyebade

FLIGHT operations at the Murtala Muhammed Internatio­nal Airport (MMIA) were yesterday grounded for hours as an Air Peace plane made emergency landing on the runway often used by foreign carriers.

The plane lost its front wheel to the mid day incident and remained stationary towards the end of the runway until it was evacuated about six hours later.

The developmen­t, however, led to temporary closure of the runway to operations due to safety concerns. The

Guardian learnt that while few single-aisle planes used the nearby local airport runway, also called 18L, bigger aircraft diverted to air

ports in Lome, Togo and Accra, Ghana.

Passengers were stranded as their flights were delayed for hours. At 6:30pm when The

Guardian visited, the terminal was full of travelers, as customers of almost all the major internatio­nal airlines were waiting to check in. Among the delayed airlines were British Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish Airline, Delta Airline, Air France/klm, Air Cote d’ivoire, and African World Airline (AWA).

The Air Peace Boeing 737300, marked 5N-BQO, was flying from Port Harcourt and made emergency landing about 11:28am at the airport. The aircraft had 133 passengers and six crew members on board, some of who sustained minor injuries.

The Accident Investigat­ion Bureau (AIB), which was notified of the incident, said from available informatio­n, the aircraft’s nose-wheel collapsed while landing on the runway, also called 18R, as the nose-wheel gear cut off.

Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Akin Olateru, said the bureau was informed of a minor injury, but no fatality, adding that safety investigat­ors had commenced investigat­ions and that AIB would need the support of members of the public to unravel the cause.

However, Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Toyin Olajide, said, “Captain Ajibola noticed sudden weather changes when approachin­g Lagos and demanded to land on the internatio­nal runway because it is longer and wider than the domestic runway.

“After landing safely and rolling to the runway exit, the nose gear developed a problem and partially collapsed. The crew notified the airport authoritie­s, who quickly ensured the safe disembarka­tion of the passengers via the passenger door.”

Olajide said the airline remain committed to the safety of its passengers and would continue to operate in line with internatio­nal best practice and regulatory guidelines.

But while the incident lasted, internatio­nal scheduled carriers flying into the airport had a torrid time.

Ethiopian airline, for instance, arrived shortly after the incident and had to hover around the Lagos airport for almost an hour before diverting to its alternate airport in Lome, Togo. Emirates airlines that often departs its first of twicedaily Lagos flights at noon, was also delayed for hours.

At about 6:30pm, Lufthansa and Turkish Airline’s dreamliner­s were sighted on the apron, as their passengers remained stranded at the terminal.

The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) denied a heavy toll on internatio­nal operations, saying the airlines were made to use the runway 18L, while Air Peace aircraft was being rescued from runway 18R.

Spokespers­on of the authority, Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed that the runway 18R had reopened as at press time yesterday, with Emirates Airlines B777 being the first to depart.

 ?? PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO ?? Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele (right); Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad and her Operations counterpar­t, Folashodun Shonubi, at the media briefing on the outcome of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja…yesterday.
PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele (right); Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad and her Operations counterpar­t, Folashodun Shonubi, at the media briefing on the outcome of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja…yesterday.

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