Aero Contractors, one of the few airlines still flying the local routes in Nigeria, might have had an accident save for a passenger’s prompt intervention.
At about 2:30 pm Monday, the Aero aircraft was set to leave the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja Lagos, when one of the passengers who sat close to the left wing of the craft spotted gas leaking from one of the valves conveying gas to the part called ‘ailerons’ which connects the wings of the aircraft to ensure stability during take-off and landing.
The passenger alerted the members of the airplane’s crew, consequently all passengers were asked to evacuate the plane.
“All boarding formalities were completed and the aircraft door shut ready for take-off. The aircraft had actually been taxied through the run-way to the take-off point when, after about ten minutes, the pilot taxied it back to the hanger,” one of the passengers aboard the flight, wishing to remain anonymous told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The flight crew was later to report to the passengers that the flight had to be delayed and aircraft taxied back to the hanger for minor repairs as safety precaution following reports of fuel leakage spotted from its left wing,” the source said.
The incident botched the flight by Aero Contractors Airlines from Lagos to Calabar that was scheduled after 2:30 pm on Monday.
Most of the affected passengers – families, workers and business people were returning from Lagos to Calabar after the long holiday declared by the Federal Government last week to commemorate the Moslem Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
After all passengers were evacuated from the aircraft, they returned to the departure hall to wait for alternative arrangements by the airline’s management.
The passengers waited in despair for several hours till about 6 pm before the finally departed Lagos for their destination.
This is the second time in seven days that Aero Contractors has had to disrupt its operations over what it termed ‘minor technical faults’
On Wednesday, October 24, at about 11: 30, flight number AJ125 from to Abuja 12:15 was disrupted after a crew member announced that there was a minor technical issue with the aircraft’s engine.
Subsequently all passengers alighted the flight for “safety precaution”. It took about one hour for a replacement to convey the passengers.
The Airline’s response
The airlines’ consultant, Simon Tumba, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, tried to allay apprehensions. He attributed the delay to a minor technical fault which he said has to be fixed as a safety precaution.
“As I am talking to you, the flight is already airborne. It was a minor technical fault that had to be taken care of as a safety precaution in line with our company’s standard routine practice to ensure the safety of our passengers,” Mr. Tumba said.