Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pilots of Crashed Nigeria Air Force Plane Hale and Hearty

Two pilots of a Nigeria Air Force training plane, reportedly, survived an air mishap at the Akwa Ibom International Airport last Friday. It was the first air crash recorded at the airport, which was commissioned about two years ago.

THISDAY gathered that the crash occurred about 7.00 pm when the plane tried to make an emergency landing at the airport after taking off from Calabar.

The crashed plane was said to be one of the seven aircrafts involved in the week-long Staff Continuity Training Exercise and Sports Week of the Nigeria Air Force, which opened Saturday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

When THISDAY visited the scene of the incident at the Akwa Ibom International Airport Saturday, security was tight but the wreckage of the plane was sighted where it was removed after the crash.

Sources said most of the pilots involved in the training programme were young men in their early 20s. None of the workers at the Akwa Ibom International Airport volunteered any information on the accident, which occurred after six of the aircraft had successfully landed.

However, a statement issued by the management of the airport Saturday exonerated itself from any negligence that could have caused the aircraft to crash land.

The statement, which was tagged "communiqué on NAF incident at AKIA," said the plane did not damage any installed facilities at the airport.

Managing Director of AKIA, Captain Jari Williams, said that the NAF airplane crashed 1,100 metres from Runway 21 at 7.09 pm.

"Meanwhile, no damage to AKIA facilities has been recorded. The two pilots are hale and hearty, and currently under observation as a matter of procedure," he said.

According to him, the AKIA and Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, were jointly selected as operation zones for this year's Staff Continuity Training Exercise and Sports Week of the Nigeria Air Force.

He disclosed that on Friday, seven NAF airplanes had departed Margaret Ekpo International Airport enroute AKIA and six of them landed successfully. Williams said AKIA aerodrome rescue and fire fighting safety team responded promptly when the seventh airplane crash landed. The management of AKIA, he said, had since informed the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) about the accident, which "was offsite the airport facilities with no recorded damage to airport facilities."

The managing director assured the flying public that AKIA is safe for flight operations in line with its current certification.

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