We Have Improved Our Safety Aviation Capacity– Sirika   

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, says Nigeria’s safety capacity has improved in line with the international standards.

Sirika said this in Lagos on Monday when he was presented with Nigeria’s Category 1 certification by the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Usman Mukhar.

Recently, the country  retained its CAT 1 safety status following an audit conducted on its aviation facilities by the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

A team of auditors from the FAA visited Nigeria for the audit in November 2017.

The eight critical elements examined for the audit were legislation, regulations, organisation, technical staff, technical guidance tools, licensing, continuous surveillance and resolution of safety concerns.

Sirika said, “I thank the DG and his team for doing us proud to retain the category one certification, which has been presented to me.

“The travelling public might not be aware but we in aviation are aware of this feat. The Category 1 status is very significant to the industry.”

Usman, who presented the certification as a birthday gift to the minister, stated that Nigeria first got it in 2010, retained it in 2014 and had sustained it.

According to him, in-house personnel were used to achieve the feat unlike before when external consultants were needed.

“The audit was for the Category One certification to enable direct flight connections between the US and other countries,” he said.

Six Air Incidents In One Month Scare Air Travellers

More than Six inappropriate incidents had been witnessed by the Nigeria’s aviation sector in the last one month, causing panic among operators and passengers.

Operators in the country’s aviation sector and air travellers are scared and are not comfortable with the incidents in the sector, with one of them described as a “very serious incident” by experts and operators.

Air travellers are also disturbed  by the reported cases of unhealthy incursions into the tarmac of some airports by unauthorised persons and animals, as these may lead to a dire situation if not addressed in earnest.

They urged the government to intensify safety oversight on airlines and airports across the country.

Industry operators and travellers told our correspondent that it was frightening to count over six air incidents within a space of one month.

“Of course, the situation will trigger fear in the minds of travellers. I am a regular traveller and that recent incident where an aircraft overshot the runway in Port Harcourt, which, of course, is a very serious incident, will frighten even the most frequent air traveller,” a former Secretary of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Mohammed Tukur, said.

On January 26, it was exclusively reported that an air incident was averted after an aircraft operated by Nestoil lost its landing gear and two tyres, while landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The aircraft, which had nine persons on board at the time of the incident, skidded off the runway as two of its back tyres pulled off when it touched down at the NAIA, a development that led to the closure of the runway for over an hour.

On January 27, less than 24 hours after the chartered aircraft lost its tyres and landing gear at the NAIA, another plane, a commercial aircraft belonging to Dana Air, hit a fence at the airport with its left wing.

It was gathered that the Dana flight, with registration number 5N-DEV from Port Harcourt, brushed the fence while trying to park after it landed at the NAIA.

Sources at the airport and passengers on board the flight told our correspondent that no injury was recorded, but blamed the aircraft’s pilot for the incident.

On February 8, it was reported that there was panic at the NAIA the preceding day after the emergency door of an aircraft operated by Dana Air fell off on landing at the Abuja airport.

Dana Air, however, argued that the door could not have fallen off without a conscious effort by a passenger to open it and stated that the airline was investigating the incident.

Media reports on February 9 had it that a security scare occurred at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos as burglars attacked an Air Peace aircraft while it was taxiing to take off to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

It was reported that the Boeing 737 aircraft was attacked at 7:35pm by unknown bandits on the domestic runway of the airport.

On February 16, an Air Peace plane from Lagos was prevented from landing at the Akure airport, as cows took over the runway.

Eyewitnesses said it took the efforts of airport security and other aviation staff to clear the runway, while the pilot was said to have contemplated returning to Lagos before he was eventually cleared to land.

As if the incidents were not enough, a dangerous one, although without casualties, happened on the night of February 20, as an aircraft belonging to Dana Air overshot the runway of the Port Harcourt airport in Rivers State, after it touched down.

The aircraft, with number 9J0363, flew into Port Harcourt after taking passengers from Abuja.

An aircraft is said to have overshot the runway when it moves past a specified point unintentionally, and this can be as a result of too much speed or the inability of the plane to stop.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed most of the incidents and made it clear that although FAAN was not culpable in most of them, the agency was doing all it could to make Nigerian airports safe.

But operators, passengers and experts believe that a lot more work should be done, as the recent incidents in the aviation sector were causing fear among air travellersTukur said, “It is not only the government that needs to address this matter. Operators need to sit up and avert such situations from reoccurring.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority needs to increase its oversight function at the airportsand on airlines. Before the recent incident where an aircraft overshot the runway, I’ve had many other experiences.

“I said it repeatedly but nothing happened. I know they (NCAA) are trying their best, but operators, particularly those with these young pilots that we see in the cockpits, have to train and retrain their pilots. I fly more than twice every week and I know what I’m saying.”

The former AON scribe added, “Old pilots should teach young ones, instead of allowing them to put passengers in fear. Some of them are not good at landing an aircraft without the full aid of an automated Instrument Landing System, which is why you hear of an aircraft overshooting the runway.

“Therefore, pilots need to be trained and retrained so that in cases of limited functionality of the ILS or when the runway is soaked or wet, the pilots will safely drop the planes without frightening their passengers.”

On the part of the government and its agencies, Tukur urged the regulator to take the monitoring of airlines seriously, even if it means observing pilots in the cockpits of their respective aircraft.

A former President of the Aviation Round Table, a body of industry experts, Capt. Dele Ore, also called for improved safety oversight of airlines and the industry by the government and its agencies.

“However, this should not put airlines under undue pressure and passengers should please not be scared of flying, because the industry is doing all it can to be safe,” he said.

A passenger, Adah, tweeted recently that he would reconsider flying some airlines in Nigeria, going by the incidents recorded in the sector in the past one month.

Another air traveller, Chibuike Daniel, told our correspondent at the Abuja airport that he was in the flight that overshot the runway in Port Harcourt.

“The good news is that we made it out alive, but the truth is that it was a horrible experience that evening in Port Harcourt. That incident and many others that we hear about in our airports and the sector in the past few days put fear in my mind whenever I think of flying,” he stated.

On what the Federal Government was doing to tackle the problem, the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Federal Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu reiterated the position of the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, that safety oversight had been heightened on airlines operating in Nigeria, with emphasis on Dana Air.

Also, FAAN, in one of its recent statements, stated that it would include the construction of perimeter fence in all airports across the country in its 2019 budget.

According to Yakubu, the spate of runway incursions and security breaches across the airports in the country remains a great concern to the agency.

She said the agency had stopped the renewal of On-Duty Cards for former workers of airlines and FAAN to ensure strict personnel monitoring.

Yakubu said the card renewal would be thoroughly monitored by the agency, adding that all security measures had been reviewed, while 10 vehicles had been added to the agency’s fleet to enhance runway patrol and minimise aircraft runway attacks.

Perimeter Fencing Of Airport Will Be In 2019 Budget – FAAN

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said perimeter fence in all airports across the country will be included in the 2019 budget.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, said on Tuesday that the spate of runway incursions and security breaches across the airports in the country remained a matter of urgency and great importance to the agency.

“FAAN is worried about the issues of security across airports in the country, and has resolved to capture the construction of perimeter fences in all airports in the 2019 budget,” she said.

Yakubu also stated that the incident at the Akure airport was being addressed, adding that the airport had perimeter fence but there was a gap that enabled the cattle to enter the runway.

“FAAN civil engineers are already at the Akure airport to fix the collapsed section of the fence,” she stated.


She explained that as part of measures to further strengthen the security of the airports across the country, the agency had stopped the renewal of On Duty Cards for former workers of airlines and FAAN to ensure strict personnel monitoring.

According to her, the cards renewal will be thoroughly scrutinised by the agency.

Yakubu said that all security measures had been reviewed while 10 vehicles had been added to the agency’s fleet to enhance runway patrol and minimise aircraft runway attacks.

“Grass cutting has been stopped, and every abandoned aircraft on the air side has been moved to the mortuary. Those in Kano, Jos and Benin airports will be moved out soon in order to create space for aircraft in use. The aviation security personnel have also been working hard to ensure that the activities of touts and touting are curtailed,” she added.

FAAN Sanctions Airport Officials Over Cow Invasion Of Runway

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says it has suspended the head of security at the Akure Airport, Ondo State after cows strayed onto the airport runway, disrupting flight operations.

The airport authority said it also queried the airport manager over the incident.

There were reports of how the airport runway was last week overrun by cows which disrupted the landing of an Air Peace flight.

The cows strayed onto the runway at the time the flight coming from Lagos was about landing, and the plane was delayed from landing for several minutes before the runway was finally cleared.

Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN’s spokesperson, had immediately after the incident apologised to Air Peace and the passengers.

On Monday, Mrs.Yakubu confirmed that the airport manager and head of airport security had been queried and suspended.

She added that measures have been put in place to forestall the recurrence of such an unpleasant incident.

She assured members of the public that the authorities has beefed up security at the various airports around the country.

Airport Security Head  Suspended By FAAN For Cows On Runway

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has suspended the head of aviation security in Akure after cows invaded the airport runway.

An Air Peace flight from Lagos prevented from landing at the Akure airport was at about 12:15pm on Saturday as cows took over the runway.

Eyewitnesses said it took the efforts of airport security and other aviation staff to clear off the runway.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, said on Monday that the agency was not unaware of recent developments at some airports within the country with respect to security breaches, and had started putting measures in place to improve security.

Yakubu stated, “We have taken various initiatives and measures to guard against breaches of any sort at all our airports nationwide. It will be recalled that there had been serious allegations of security breaches at some airports recently, the latest being the incursion of the Akure airport runway, which led to a temporary disruption of landing procedures of an inbound Air Peace flight.

“While we apologise for the incident, we want to state that officers of the security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway to allow for a successful landing of the flight. We have taken other steps like the query issued to the Akure airport manager, while the head of security at the airport has been suspended even as a team of engineers from FAAN are already working to ensure that all gaps responsible for this incident are promptly closed.”

She said the agency had also deployed 10 additional patrol vehicles to secure the airside of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, following recent cases of stealing from aircraft.

“We also have a joint patrol arrangement involving military officers, men of the Nigeria Police Force and aviation security at our airports at all times. These efforts will help in no small measure at bringing to the barest minimum security infractions at our airports,” she added.

Yakubu also called for the support of stakeholders in the industry as well as passengers in improving security at the airports.

Cows Invade Akure Airport Runway

A herd of cattle strayed onto the runway of Akure Airport this morning, preventing an Air Peace flight from Lagos from landing.

The Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr Chris Iwarah, confirmed the incident, saying “Flight P4 7002 from Lagos had to delay landing into Akure Airport on Saturday when the pilot-in-command sighted cows on the runway at about 12.15pm.

“On being alerted by control tower, aviation security personnel of the FAAN (FAAN AVSEC) quickly intervened and cleared the runway.

“The flight was eventually cleared to land after about seven minutes. Our guests on board were all calm while the delay lasted.”

In a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs , Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has apologised to Air Peace Airlines and its passengers for the incident.

She said :”However, normalcy was restored quickly, as officers of the aviation security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway and the aircraft was cleared for landing.

“The authority will like to assure travellers and the general public that efforts are already ongoing to close the gap that aided this incident.

Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing In Lagos

At the wee hours of Wednesday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, a Delta Airlines Airbus 330- 200 with capacity for 244 passengers developed an engine problem about one hour after it took off from the airport.

According to reports, five passengers were injured during the emergency evacuation. The pilot on sensing danger with the engine on fire initiated an emergency return to the Lagos Airport.

Airport sources hinted that the pilot had informed Aerodrome Fire and Rescue Safety Unit of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to prepare for emergency landing.

A source hinted that with sufficient mobilization from the relevant safety emergency agencies, a section of the runway was closed for the aircraft to land.

While, a section of the runway closed to traffic and the fire in the aircraft engine put out, some operations were disrupted.

According to investigations, with the incident occurring at a section of the runway, international departures were reorganized on request with contingency measures in place.

An official of FAAN confirmed that the Delta Airlines aircraft is still on ground.

She said the aircraft has been towed from the runway to pave way for other aircraft that are either landing on taking off.

An official of another aviation agency said though the fire has been put out, the aircraft is still lying near the runway.

Meanwhile, officials of Delta Airlines have confirmed that an Atlanta-bound flight from Lagos, Nigeria was forced to turn back Tuesday after the plane experienced engine issues.

According to the airline , flight 55 from Murtala Mohammed Internationl Airport in Lagos took off from the airport around 10:50 p.m. Nigeria time.

Flight tracking website FlightAware indicates the flight had only been in the air for a little less than an hour and a half, and had only traveled 29 of its roughly 5,800-mile journey, before one of the A330-200’s two engines reported issues.

Delta said the flight landed safely shortly after midnight, but passengers had to use the emergency slides to exit the plane onto the runway.

Airport fire crews met the plane on arrival, and passengers were bussed back to the terminal.
At this time, Delta said it is aware of five customers who reported non-critical injuries during the evacuation.

The company said it’s now focused on trying to find overnight hotel accommodations for customers, and will likely rebook them on a Wednesday afternoon flight.

“The safety of Delta’s customers and crew members is always our top priority,” the company concluded.

In a statement issued in Lagos, the airline said :” Delta flight 55 from Lagos, Nigeria to Atlanta returned to Lagos International Airport Tuesday after an issue with one of the A330-200’s two engines.

The flight landed safely and customers exited the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides. Airport fire authorities


FAAN Debunks Allegation Of Theft At Airport

Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has debunked allegations of theft at the airport as baseless and impossible.

This is a reaction to allegations of poaching of aircraft and stealing of baggage at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Earlier on Tuesday, a private jet purportedly conveying two top Nigerian musical artists, Ayodeji Balogun aka “Wizkid” and Tiwa Savage from Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, was allegedly attacked and robbed while taxiing on Lagos airport’s runway.

The Bombardier Challenger 605 jet with registration number T7-A00 arrived Lagos from Uyo at about 8:33 p.mm and was slowly taxiing to the arrival hangar when the cargo compartment was allegedly burgled.

Reports said upon arrival at Quits Aviation Center, a private jet hangar, the pilot discovered that two bags belonging to Ms. Savage and Wizkid had allegedly been stolen.

Amidst allegations of poaching of aircraft and stealing of baggage at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, FAAN said such allegations as baseless and practically impossible.

While Wizkid has remained mute about the incident, Tiwa took to social media to vent her frustration.

The incident is coming shortly after another alleged theft of passengers’ property occurred at the airport.

SaharaReporters had reported that a Vistajet jet with the registration number 9H-VFA operated by Evergreen Apple Nigeria (EAN) Ltd was allegedly robbed on December 12 when taxiing to the hangar of EAN.


FAAN Director Rejects New Posting, Request For Leave Without Pay

The power play between the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika and the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Saleh Dunoma on one hand the redeployed Director of Human Resources of FAAN, Hajiya Salamatu Umar-Eluma continues as she has blatantly refused to report to her new posting at the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

It was gathered from a source at the Ministry of Transport that few days before the letter conveying her redeployment to AIB was issued by the Ministry of Transport, Aviation Division, Umar-Eluma had already requested for a year study leave without pay from the management.

The letter, we learned was accepted and approved by Dunoma.

Our correspondent learned that the former Director of Human Resources, FAAN got wind of the planned redeployment earlier in the week and immediately tendered her letter requesting for the study leave.

It was gathered that Umar-Eluma had already made up her mind not to resume at AIB, which she considered as a demotion.

There is no love lost between Dunoma and Umar-Eluma since the former became the Managing Director of FAAN in March 2014. There is a suspicion that Umar-Eluma is eyeing the top job in FAAN, a situation, which has created a frosty relationship between the two.

Umar-Eluma’s redeployment letters and two others were issued on Friday, August 18,  2017.

The source said: “Salamatu was already aware of the gameplay has been a part of it too from the outset. Before the letter was released to her, she was already aware that she was going to be redeployed and she immediately tendered a letter requesting for a year study leave without pay.

“She believed that before she returns from the leave, both Sirika and Dunoma would have been removed by the Presidency from the industry. You know she’s close to Mrs. Aisha Buhari and she has never hidden the relationship with the wife of Mr. President. The close relationship has even prevented her from being removed in the past since Sirika came on board.”

Also, it has been revealed that the new General Manager, Accounts, FAAN, Mal. Kabir Mohammed is a cousin to Sirika. Mohammed was equally last Friday appointed in that capacity while the erstwhile General Manager in that department was redeployed to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

In October 2016, Sirika had also announced the appointment of Mr. Sadiku Abdulkadir Rafindadi as Director of Commercial & Business Development in FAAN, Rafindadi is also believed to be his first cousin.

Like Sirika, Mohammed and Rafindadi are from Katsina State while one Alhaji Daura, the Director of Engineering in FAAN is also from the same state as the minister.

Abuja Airport Ready For Re-opening, FAAN Says

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has disclosed that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NNIA), Abuja will re- open on Monday April 17, 2017.

This was reaffirmed by the the Managing Director ofthe agency, Saleh Dunoma in an interview on Sunday. He said, “We will be ready by Monday on April 17 , 2017 but we are leaving the remaining two days for Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority .

“This is because the NCAA has to certify the airport that what we have done is in accordance with their standards.

“After the NCAA do that, we will bring in the traffic. But if they do not, we have the opportunity of making corrections with the two days we have saved.”

FAAN Sets Up Panel To Investigate Fire Incident

After the fire incident at The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), a panel has been set up to investigate the cause of the fire. According to eyewitness account, the fire, which affected the audit and commercial sections of the headquarters started at about 9a.m. but was later put out by the Lagos State fire service and that of FAAN,
The Managing Director of the agency, Saleh Dunoma, said in addition to the investigation panel, the Nigerian Police would carry out their own investigation and would interview officials of the agency.

According to him, members of the investigative panel include the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Department of State Service (DSS), Aviation Security (AVSEC), Safety Department and Fire Department in addition to the legal department, which would also serve as secretary to the panel.

The panel is expected to find out the remote and immediate cause of the fire and the extent of the damage; the contribution of various departments and proffer solutions and suggestions to stop similar incident from happening again in future.