Written by Sola Adekola Thursday, 25 October 2012
Recently, an IRS Fokker aircraft, with 91 Kano bound passengers on board, while taxiing to take off rammed into a stationary sewage tanker at a portion very close to the domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, damaging the affected wing of the aircraft.
Information then, indicated that the truck was involved in an incident the previous night which made it too late for the relevant organisation to remove it from the position.
According to Yemi Dada, IRS Managing Director, the pilot of the aircraft while taxiing on the taxiway observed a FAAN truck in a ditch. There were no marshallers around it, neither was there any marking to indicate that it encroached into the taxi way. There was no Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued to that effect, as well.
“The captain continued on his taxi and the tip of the wing hit a protrusion from the truck towards the rear of the truck. This made the captain to request for a return to ramp from the tower and also notify the tower of the incident and the danger posed by the truck.
In defence of FAAN, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr Yabulu Data, said, “At about 8.30 pm last night (October 9, 2012), a gully emptier with registration number XT 461 LSD on official assignment accidentally fell into drainage in the taxiway ramp of GAT and could not be evacuated immediately.”
Data said the pilot of the aircraft, Captain D Kelly of IRS was informed by an Arik Pilot of an obstruction on the taxiway towards Runway 18L, but “he (Captain Kelly) felt he could manoeuvre the obstacle by his own judgment, but this failed because the tip of the wing of the aircraft collided with a section of the gully emptier at about 7.45 am.”
While the public still await the result of what actually transpired which may not be made public at the end of the day, there is, however, the need for certain issues to be raised in order to prevent any avoidable disaster.
The issue which simply falls under runway incursion has to do with safety and there is no point playing sentiment with it.
Simply put, runway incursion is an act involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.
The need for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other aviation bodies to urgently beam searchlight on this safety issue becomes pertinent in view of the imminent danger such act poses to flight operations as they affect passengers’ safety and aircraft safety.
Thank God that nothing more serious happened on the day in question if not, all the excuses provided by FAAN may not have been tenable. The truth is that the authority has not really taken seriously the issues relating to emergencies such as runway incursions.
For if FAAN had been proactive, the excuse that because the truck fell into a ditch the previous night which could not allow it to be removed is unacceptable as what is expected of FAAN is to have done everything possible to remove the truck from that point.
Besides, assuming that FAAN could not get it removed that night, what other steps did it take to inform the control tower of such obstruction and did FAAN issue the aviation accepted Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to at least put every aircraft on alert as to the presence of the truck?
It is based on this that Crucial Moment is calling on the relevant aviation agencies to focus attention on the need to be more proactive when emergencies crop up at the airport as that is an important yardstick used to measure aviation safety.
The need to be more proactive becomes necessary in view of similar incursions the industry had recorded in the past which had greatly put question mark on safety at the airports.
Written by Shola Adekola, Lagos Thursday, 25 October 2012