Air Peace flight which took off from Enugu Airport on its way to Abuja, returned to base 15 minutes later after a bird struck one of the two engines of the Boeing B737 aircraft while it was gaining altitude.
On the flight were important personalities, including the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, among others who commended the pilot of the flight for landing the aircraft safely at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah, confirmed the incident and explained that the crew decided to return to the Enugu airport as a precautionary measure in line with the airline’s high safety procedures.
Iwarah said: “We confirm that Enugu-Abuja bound Air Peace flight P47102 on May 13, 2019, had a bird strike moment after takeoff. In line with our high safety standards, our crew decided to return to base as a precautionary measure.
“The aircraft landed safely at the Enugu Airport and our esteemed passengers on board the flight, who were briefed by our professional crew and remained calm during the incident, disembarked normally.
“Our team of engineers were immediately mobilised to conduct proper checks on the aircraft to ascertain the impact of the bird strike on the aircraft. While the checks were on, we quickly deployed another aircraft to operate the service. Although bird strikes are a frequent occurrence in aviation and not life-threatening, we do not take chances with matters of safety. We always prefer to err on the side of precaution.
“We empathise with our valued passengers for the inconvenience caused them and wish to assure them that we will continue to prioritise their safety in all our operations.”
Bird strike has become a regular incident on domestic air operations, and anytime it happens, it forces the aircraft out of operations until it is recertified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Meanwhile, Arik Air has announced the reschedule of its flight due to reduction in number of operational aircraft.
The airline in a statement signed by its spokesman, Adebanji Ola, said Arik air fleet has witnessed a reduction in number in the last two weeks due to the fact that some aircraft have been flown overseas to Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) in Europe.
He said the management stated that in order to maintain schedule integrity and ensure flights departure on time, it had to cut down on the number of flights operated daily.
The airline further stated that as a safety conscious airline, it takes aircraft maintenance very seriously.
It however assured its customers that the aircraft would start returning from maintenance in the next few days while scheduled operations would be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
The Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, explained that “we regret any inconveniences that our customers may suffer due to this schedule adjustment. We are almost done with the checks, and our customers will start seeing the effect with improved services.”
The airline therefore appealed to its customers to bear with it at this period while assuring them that their safety and comfort will not be compromised.