AIB begins probe

A plane crash was averted, Tuesday (5/112019) by a B737-500 aircraft belonging to Airpeace airlines on an Owerri bound flight from Lagos.  The aircratf lost one of its engines a few minutes into the 50 minute flight. The crew of six were applauded for managing the incident safely and returning to make an emergency landing at Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos 19 minutes after take-off. According to air traffic controllers, the flight crew declared engine failure at 07:47a.m. and subsequently made an air return to Lagos with 90 passengers and six crew members on board. The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) corroborated controllers in a statement when it confirmed that, “From the information provided by the Air Traffic Control (ATC), the flight crew declared engine failure at 07:47 local time and subsequently made an air return to Lagos.”

AIB spokesman, Tunji Oketunbi, said the aircraft landed safely at 08:06 a.m. All the occupants disembarked with no injury. He further disclosed that the AIB team of safety investigators had commenced investigation into what it described as, “Serious incident involving a Boeing 737-500 aircraft operated by Air Peace, with registration marks, 5N-BUJ.” Oketunbi stated that as the sole agency mandated to undertake the investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents, the Bureau wants the public to know that it would be open to receiving any video clip, relevant evidence or information that may assist in this investigation. The agency appealed to the media and the public to respect the privacy of the people involved and not to pre-empt the cause of the serious incident.

The recent incident brings to four the number of incidents involving the airline in quick succession in less than six months; a pattern experts said are worrisome. On June 23, 2019, the crew inexplicably landed the aircraft in a manner that led to a total nose gear collapse.

The crew notified the airport authorities who quickly ensured the safe disembarkation of the passengers, the airline said. A week before that, an Air Peace flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt skidded off the runway on Saturday 22nd June, closing Port Harcourt Airport for over 24 hours. On May 15, 2019, while the aircraft was on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt, the aircraft was said to have experienced a hard landing as it touched down on the runway (18R). Damage assessment of the airplane revealed that the aircraft made contact on the runway with the starboard engine cowling as obvious from various scrapes, scratches and dents, an evidence of tyre scouring on the sidewalls of the No. 4 tyre. Recently, the airline and the AIB were embroiled in a face-off that led to a spat over allegations that the carrier usually conceal incident from investigation by the investigative body.