Yet another plane crash may have been averted in Kaduna Sunday when an IRS Airline plane with 89 passengers on board was said to have developed a hydraulic fault, leading to an assisted landing at the Kaduna Airport.
"The plane had a hydraulic problem and on landing had to disembark passengers on the runway instead of taxing to the apron, in accordance with the landing procedures," said an airport official in Kaduna.
Confirming the incident, the Managing Director of IRS, Mr. Yemi Dada, said: "On final approach to Kaduna today (yesterday) on our flight 3390 with 89 passengers, our cockpit crew got a low hydraulic in system 1 warning and decided to take precautionary measures to ask for ground confirmation that all gears were down and locked, following which the aircraft landed normally after the control tower had confirmed that the gears were all down normally.
"The crew proceeded to land and went on to disembark on the runway, not taxi in accordance with the procedure.
"All passengers disembarked normally and the aircraft was towed to the ramp. The maintenance crew is inspecting the aircraft to ascertain what may have caused the warning. Updates will follow shortly."
The latest incident is coming a few days after an Associated Airlines aircraft carrying the remains of a former governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Agagu, and 20 others crashed 31 seconds after take-off from the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos runway instantly killing 13 of the 20 people on board the aircraft. Three more passengers have since died in hospitals from the injuries sustained from the crash. A day after the Associated Airlines crash, another incident was recorded when a Kabo Airways plane with over 500 passengers on board was forced to crash land at the Sokoto Airport after its tyres exploded. No fatality was recorded in that incident. Allaying fears over the IRS incident, the Special Adviser, Media to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, yesterday said the IRS aircraft, F.100 with registration no 5N-HR, that landed in Kaduna at about 11 am yesterday, was not involved in an emergency landing.
In a press statement, he admitted that the aircraft developed a minor hydraulic problem on approach landing, adding: "The pilot, using reverse throttle mechanism landed safely and stopped the aircraft on the runway. The aircraft was not involved in an emergency landing."
He added that all passengers and crew disembarked safely after which the aircraft was towed from the runway to the apron.
Obi's statement was corroborated by the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Fola Akinkuotu, who assured all air travellers of their safety, and cautioned that the incident should not be magnified out of proportion. Also speaking to THISDAY on the phone, a pilot with IRS Airlines, who preferred not to be named, said the aircraft's assisted landing in Kaduna yesterday was a step taken to avoid any air mishap.
He said there was no cause for alarm as it was normal and professional expediency that demanded that the flight was assisted in landing when it developed the hydraulic fault.