There was panic at the Kaduna Airport on Sunday when an IRS Airlines Fokker 100 plane with about 99 passengers and crew made an emergency landing.
The incident happened 10 days after 15 people were killed in an Associated Airlines plane crash in Lagos and nine days after a Kabo Airlines Boeing 747 aircraft also made an emergency landing in Sokoto Airport, Sokoto.
The IRS plane, which departed the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos was said to have experienced hydraulic leakage a few minutes to its landing at the Kaduna Airport.
The pilots of the flight 3390 were said to have requested an emergency landing from the airport’s control tower which was immediately granted.
The control tower, according to an aviation source, called the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria which deployed fire fighters in and airport emergency response team the runway.
Although the plane landed safely, it was said to have been towed from the runway to the airport apron after the panic-stricken passengers had disembarked .
A source at the airport, who said none of the passengers and members of the crew got injured, added that some parts of the plane were damaged.
He said, “Firefighters were immediately deployed to avert any fire incident. When the plane landed safely, there was a near stampede by the passengers but there were no injuries.”
The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, confirmed the incident, saying that investigation had commenced into the cause of the incident.
A statement by the agency quoted him as saying, “An aircraft Fokker 100 with registration number 5N-HIR operated by IRS Airlines landed safely following a hydraulic leakage on the runway of Kaduna Airport today (Sunday). The NCAA directed the airline to tow the aircraft to the apron. The Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau has commenced investigation into the incident.”
Akinkuotu, however, assured air travellers of their safety and cautioned against magnifying a manageable incident.
The Managing Director, IRS, Mr. Yemi Dada, in an email statement to journalists, said the aircraft developed the fault on final approach to the Kaduna airport.
According to him, the cockpit crew got a warning from the aircraft system that the plane had low hydraulic, and decided to take a precautionary measure by asking for ground confirmation from the control tower at the Kaduna airport that all the landing gears were down and locked.
Dada stated that the aircraft landed normally after the control tower had confirmed that the gears were all down and locked.
He said, “The crew proceeded to land, but followed procedure to disembark on the runway and not taxi in accordance with the procedure. All passengers disembarked normally and the aircraft was towed to ramp. The maintenance crew inspected to confirm the issue that caused the warning on the aircraft cockpit to the crew.”
IRS currently operates one aircraft, as its remaining planes are routine checks overseas
However some aviation agency officials were said to have faulted the pilots for declaring an emergency and calling for the deployment of fire fighters.
A pilot told The PUNCH that the officials argued that the pilots could have landed the plane safely without causing further apprehension in the aviation sector.
This was further confirmed in a statement issued by the Ministry of Aviation, which denied that the aircraft had emergency landing.
A statement by the Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, said , “The pilot, using reverse throttle mechanism, safely landed and stopped the aircraft on the runway.
“The aircraft was not involved in an emergency landing. All passengers and crew disembarked safely, after which the aircraft was towed from the runway to the apron. Normal operations have since resumed at the airport.”