BY OKEY NDIRIBE
In a telephone interview he granted to Vanguard last Saturday concerning the tension that has gripped the nation’s aviation sector following last Thursday’s crash in Lagos and several other near air mishaps in Sokoto and Benin, Mr Joe Obi, the Special Adviser on Media to the Aviation Minister Princess Stella Oduah said there was nothing unusual about the situation.
Reacting to the reported incident of an air return from Benin to Abuja involving an Arik aircraft last Friday, he said it was nothing to worry about.
Said he: “I am not aware of the air return from Benin to Abuja which reportedly happened last Friday. But even if it happened, pilots who do so are usually applauded because it is a standard safety procedure to adopt when pilots are having landing difficulties. If this happens, it is not news.”
Also reacting to the emergency landing of a Kabo Airline aircraft at the Sokoto Airport which coincidentally occurred the same day, Obi stated that the Saudi Arabia bound plane only had a stop over at the Sokoto Airport to pick up additional passengers.
According to a statement he issued last Saturday evening:”On October 4, 2013, a Boeing 747-3 aircraft with Reg 5N-JRM, operated by Kabo Airlines arrived safely with all passengers and crew on board, following a landing incident at the Sokoto airport at 2100 GMT.
” The aircraft which departed from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano was enroute Saudi Arabia when it had a stop-over at the Sokoto airport for passenger pick-up. “Preliminary reports indicate that the control tower gave the pilot clearance to land on Runway 08 but the captain, opted to use Runway 26, for reasons yet to be ascertained.
The 512 souls on board, made up of 494 passengers and 18 crew members landed safely. The aircraft however damaged parts of the Instruments Landing System (ILS) and came to a stop with deflated tyres. The FAAN emergency response apparatus acted swiftly to secure all souls on board and the aircraft.”