2 AIRPLANES OVERSHOOT RUNWAY
The torrential rainfall that rendered many Nigerians homeless few days ago also took its toll in the aviation sector as two airplanes overshot the runway in Benin and Port Harcourt Airports.
Though no lives were lost nor injuries sustained, the incident disrupted flight into the airports as it took a while to remove the airplanes from the tarmac.
Both aircraft suffered what is known in aviation parlance as aquaplaning, a development which occurs on wet runways, when the friction between the airplane tyres and the runway is zero; thus making breaking very difficult.
Consequently, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, has advised pilots and airline operators to adhere strictly flight-operating procedure in order to avert any air mishap.
According to him, the rainy season is accompanied by thunderstorms and floods, stressing that pilots must exercise caution when taking off and landing as the most accidents occurred during such critical segment of flights.
He revealed that two airplanes, an HS-125 belonging to Associated Airlines and a Cessna Citation, operated by Bristow Helicopters overshot the runway of Benin and Port Harcourt Airports respectively due to flood occasioned by the downpour in recent days.
Demuren further stated that it is mandatory for pilots to obtain adequate departure, enroute and destination weather information from Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) offices at various airports across the country, before hitting the skies.
He said the authority will not hesitate to punish any pilot found risking passengers lives by flouting the weather directives.
'Pilots and crews members should not be in a hurry at all. They have to wait for the evil weather to clear in the interest of safety. If that leads to flight delay or cancellation, then so be it. But same should be communicated to the passengers and not leaving them in the dark. It's better to experience delays or suffer affected programmes and schedules than hitting the skies and losing lives and property. There is no parking space in the air. The passengers should understand the airlines' plight. I am sure you are aware that in the last five days I have had two runways overrun, one in Benin and another one in Port Harcourt yesterday. We thank God there were no loss of lives. The country is experiencing a lot of torrential rain and our runways are not insulated from that', he stated.
The NCAA boss however assured Nigerians that flight crew members of airlines are well trained to manage flights during wet seasons, adding that people have nothing to worry about.