Arik Air has said the incident involving its Boeing 737-700 aircraft marked 5N MJI and a Nigerian Air Force C-130 (NAF 917) aircraft on the tarmac of Yakubu Gowon Airport, Heipang, Jos, on Saturday, July 14, was exaggerated by a section of the media.
In a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, the airline spokesman explained that the aircraft on a scheduled flight from Jos to Lagos brushed the wing of the parked NAF aircraft while taxing, causing minor damage to the wings of both aircraft. The tank 1 wing tip of the NAF C-130 as well as the left winglet of the Arik Air's Boeing 737-700 Next Generation (NG) aircraft were damaged.
According to the airline, the incident did not lead to the gushing out of fuel from the damaged area of the Boeing 737-700 as the aircraft's tanks are well protected.
A team of Arik Air officials comprising of the Chairman, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, the Managing Director, Mr. Chris Ndulue, the Chief Pilot, Captain Adetokunbo Adekunbi and the Safety Manager, Captain Jide Bakare were in Jos yesterday to assess the damage caused by the incident. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was also in the team that visited Jos.
Speaking in Jos after the assessment tour, Arik Air's Managing Director, Mr. Ndulue, said that the incident was blown out of proportion by a section of the Nigerian media. He blamed the incident partly on the apron markings of the airport which have not been done to suit modern aircraft's wing-span.
"The markings on the tarmac of the Jos Airport are old markings which did not take into cognizance the use of bigger aircraft like Boeing 737-700 or 737-800 which we have in our fleet now and are capable of misleading pilots during taxing. We hope this incident will make FAAN to re-do those markings," said Ndulue.
He also debunked the report that another of the airline's aircraft had an incident in Abuja on Saturday. The report claimed that an Arik Air aircraft skidded off the runway on arriving Abuja from Enugu.
"Arik Air continues to operate under the highest safety standards as recommended by the NCAA, EASA and Federal Airport Administration (FAA) of the United States of America (USA). Our clients are assured of their safety aboard our flights at all times," he further said.