No Pilgrims’ Plane Crash-landed in Minna, Says NAHCON

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said that no plane carrying pilgrims, returning from Jeddah crash-landed at the Minna airport early Saturday.

There were reports on Saturday that the 559 pilgrims from Niger State, who were returning from Jeddah, escaped death when the MAX Air Flight NGL 2092 that lifted them home, nearly crash-landed after developing technical fault.

In a statement on Sunday, the Head, Public Affairs of NAHCON, Fatima Sanda Usara, said the flight which departed the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah at 2.34 a.m. on Saturday, September 7, landed safely in Minna with all the passengers back to their destinations.

She added that as for the condition of the plane, NAHCON had been assured by the relevant agencies that investigation was ongoing to ascertain the nature of the technical fault encounter.

“Therefore while waiting for experts to confirm the real situation, NAHCON requests the general public to be cautious of misinformation. Already two flights of the same MAX Air had taken off and landed in Nigeria the same day. So far 38,807 pilgrims have been transported back to Nigeria in 80 flights,” Usara said.

A press release by the Director Flight Operations, MAX Air, Captain Ibrahim Dilli, said that the aircraft, a Boing 747-400, with registration number 5N-DBK, ran into a heavy torrential rain with unstable winds at the time of arrival.

Dilli also added that the instrument at the Minna Airport was epileptic with unreliable signals.

“Our pilots executed an approach, using their wealth of experience and knowledge of the terrain and environment to a safe landing and stop on the runway, during which one of the engines slightly brushed the runway due to complex landing manoeuvres occasioned by the strong downdraft. Airport did not crash, nor skid off the runway,” the statement said.

He disclosed that all the required reports on the minor incident had been filed while officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) were satisfied after inspecting both the aircraft and runway.