- NCAA relocates headquarters to Abuja
Passengers on-board Azman Air flight from Lagos to Port Harcourt Thursday morning were petrified when one of the two-engine aircraft failed while the aircraft was mid-air, at over 20,000 feet above sea level.
The flight was operated by a Boeing B737 with the registration number 5N-NAS, which had departed the Murtala Muhammed Airport domestic terminal (MMA 2), Lagos to Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt, with 114 passengers on-board before the incident occurred.
THISDAY learnt that the incident occurred at about 10:57 a.m. when the flight was approaching the Port Harcourt airspace.
According to informed source in the industry, the aircraft had already flown for about 35 minutes when the pilot-in-command informed the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) at Port Harcourt Airport of the breakdown of one of its engines and declared emergency immediately.
It was gathered that the ATC approved the emergency status for the pilot, but the pilot in an attempt to land, missed the approach light and had to re-position again.
Within this period, it was learnt that there was panic among the passengers who were already informed of the incident.
An unconfirmed report claimed that one of the wings of the aircraft had caught fire mid-air before one of the two engines failed.
The General Manager, Public Affairs, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Sam Adurogboye, confirmed the incident on the phone.
Adurugoboye said the airline had alerted the regulatory agency of the incident and that its inspectors would check the aircraft to ascertain its level of damage.
He, however, said the airline had sent in another aircraft to airlift some of its passengers out of Port Harcourt to other cities.
He said: “It is a safety issue. The airline has alerted us of the incident. The fact is that the aircraft had an engine issue mid-air, but it was able to land safety at Port Harcourt Airport. After the incident, the airline had sent in another aircraft to airlift its passengers from Port Harcourt.”
When contacted, the Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Faisal Munaif, refused to pick the call to confirm the incident.
In another development, the Director General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman, has confirmed that the federal government has directed that the regulatory agency should relocate its headquarters from Lagos to Abuja.
Usman told THISDAY that the agency would begin phased movement to the federal capital territory.
In 2008 the federal government directed that NCAA should relocate to Abuja but this was jettisoned by the then Minister of Aviation, Babatunde Omotoba, after the agency had prepared its offices located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
But with the latest directive, there are indications that within few months, NCAA would fully be operating from the nation’s capital.