An Abuja bound Medview Airline flight from Lagos yesterday morning made an air return five minutes after take-off when passengers raised fire alarm, forcing the pilot of the Boeing 737 aircraft with registration number 5N-BPB back to the airport of departure.
The flight which took off at about 8:12 am with 94 passengers onboard from the domestic terminal, MMA2 of the Lagos Airport returned and landed at the Runway 18L, known as the domestic terminal at about 8:17 am after the pilot who took a precautionary measure had alerted the fire fighters and other relevant agencies for possible emergency landing.
The acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Benedict Adeyileka, while addressing journalists on the incident, described the action of the pilot of the flight as â€œa successfully precautionary landing with all 99 persons on board including five crew members.â€
â€œThe aircraft which took off at 8:12 am was enroute to Abuja and returned back to Lagos at 8:17am as a result of slight fumes observed in the aircraft, which the passengers mistook for fire and reacted in panic,â€ Adeyileka said.
He said the captain of the aircraft took a decision to return to Lagos more from the danger of passenger reaction which may have destabilised the aircraft, rather than from the fumes, adding that his action was also in line with NCAA directive to pilots to return to base in case of doubts.
â€œThe NCAA has already commenced investigation to ascertain the cause of the fumes as inspectors were on ground on routine ramp inspection at the time of the incident. The NCAA however, calls on the general public, especially aviation stakeholders not to panic as the incident has already been brought under control,â€ the acting Director General said.
But NCAA had grounded the aircraft and ordered aircraft inspectors to review its air worthiness.
â€œThe aircraft is grounded and will remain grounded until NCAA is satisfied with its air worthiness.
Medview engineers have already opened up the panels of the aircraft but are yet to find out anything. Air return does not constitute an emergency but if the pilot sees a warning light he ought to return to base. It was a precautionary measure, even if there is nothing wrong with the aircraft; he may decide to make air return. We prefer to have a false alarm than to have an incident,â€ Adeyileka also said.
Medview in a statement quoted a passenger, Mr. Longe Olarenwaju Lukeman who confirmed that smoke was noticed on take-off but by the time the pilot was returning for landing, the smoke had disappeared.
Former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, yesterday said he was hale and hearty, following the incident involving the Abuja-bound Med-View aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing few minutes after take off from Lagos.
Daniel, who was on board the airline, said: â€œNo life was lost and no one sustained any injury. We thank God for his grace and mercies.â€
The former governor, who spoke through his Media Assistant, Mr. Ayo Giwa, reassured all his well-wishers worldwide that he was hale and hearty, saying “I have since taken another flight to Abuja and successfully had my meeting.”
Giwa said Daniel was on a trip to meet up a scheduled appointment in Abuja earlier Sunday, noting “undeterred by the incident, the former Governor took another flight to meet up with his schedule in Abuja.