About sixty-six passengers, including some highly-placed Nigerians, narrowly escaped death in a mishap involving an aircraft in the fleet of Air Peace, one of the major airlines in the country. According to investigation, the aircraft crash landed at about 9.30am on Friday morning in Ilorin from Abuja. The plane landed with a bang, which affected the cabin with luggage falling on passengers. It was gathered with the impact of the crash the plane could not taxi to the tarmac.
But all the traumatised passengers were successfully evacuated from the runway. As at the time of filing this report on Saturday at 2.08pm, efforts were being made to relocate the plane from the runway. It was learnt that the process of moving the plane from the runway was slow because, according to a source, “it is a bigger aircraft and we have no equipment.
“We are in the process of removing the aircraft. We have been on it for 24 hours,” the source added. But the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other agencies offered to keep the incident under wraps. “We were directed to manage the situation,” the source said.
Following the report of the incident to the authorities, the Accident Investigation Bureau said its safety investigators did an evaluation of the occurrence and decided not to investigate and has released the aircraft to the management of Air Peace. The incident happened on Friday. The Nation learnt that the runway of the Ilorin International Airport has been closed to traffic while all flights to Ilorin were cancelled to allow for the evacuation of the plane.
But in a press statement made available yesterday, the management of the airline described any report of a crash involving its aircraft, as misleading. The company confirmed that while the aircraft in question landed safely, it had a minimal tyre burst while taxing.
“The attention of Air Peace has been drawn to misleading online reports purporting that our Ilorin bound B737-500 aircraft with registration number 5N-BQR from Abuja, was involved in a crash in Ilorin, around 10am on July 23, 2021. For the records, no such thing happened. The reports misrepresented and exaggerated the facts. We can confirm that the aircraft in question landed safely but had a minimal tyre burst while taxing. This debunks all the mischievously headlined reports circulating online, which should be disregarded.
“Our aircraft neither crashed nor crash landed in Ilorin or in any place for that matter. This kind of sensationalism is bad and was intended to cause panic in the minds of the flying public. It was duly reported to the authorities and passengers disembarked seamlessly. The tyres have, however, been fixed and aircraft is intact. We condemn sensational publication of falsehood. Air Peace is committed to providing peaceful connectivity across cities and relentlessly observes the highest standards of safety in its operations,” the statement read.
It was gathered late yesterday that the plane had been moved to the hanger of the Nigerian Airforce in the airport for further maintenance services. “With this development, flight operations in and out of Ilorin can now commence in earnest,” an official of the airport said.
Arik Air and Overland airlines had on Friday cancelled their flight schedules from Abuja to Ilorin as well as Ilorin-Lagos. Scores of passengers who were waiting to board the Air Peace flight to Lagos at 11am on Friday were left stranded. Most passengers it was gathered resolved to travel by road while others returned home.
Source: The Nation