The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has commended the pilot of Aero Contractors’ flight, who returned to base after encountering bird strike on takeoff at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Megwa, adding that the pilot acted professionally.
It will be recalled that the aircraft, Boeing 737-500, with registration number 5N-BKR, was heading to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja before the incident on Monday afternoon.
Reacting to this, the Director-General of NCAA, Musa Nuhu, in a statement on Tuesday, explained that the pilot made a circuit and returned to base within eight minutes of the incident, maintaining that the action of the pilot was in order.
The aircraft departed PHIA for Abuja with 91 people on board; 85 passengers and six crew members at 2:06pm and returned to base at 2:14pm.
According to him, the incident damaged the aircraft’s blade, adding that the aircraft was undergoing repairs in Port Harcourt.
Aero Contractors brought another aircraft to airlift the passengers to Abuja within 90 minutes of the incident, Nuhu explained.
His words, “Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration number: 5N-BKR belonging to Aero Contractors departed Port Harcourt to Abuja, but, during takeoff, had a bird strike and the pilot continued the takeoff, made a circuit and returned to land.
“That is what is supposed to be done. Pilots are trained for that. At the point he had the bird strike, he could not abort the takeoff. So, he continued and returned to base.”
While commending Aero Contractor for its quick response in the face of difficulty, the NCAA boss stated, “They restarted the engine and discovered that some parts of the blades were damaged. Within 90 minutes, Aero Contractors came with a different aircraft to rescue the passengers.
“As we speak, maintenance is ongoing to fix the damaged blade and when they finish, NCAA inspectors will inspect it and certify if all the parameters: engines, blades and others are okay, then they will be released for flight.”
Nuhu added that no life was at risk because of the incident.
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