A Max Air aircraft carrying pilgrims from Saudi Arabia crash-landed on Saturday causing panic at the Minna International Airport, damaging the tarmac and Instrument Landing System.
The aircraft had taken off from King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah with 560 passengers and 19 crew members.
Max Air blamed the incident on the epileptic Instrument Landing System at the facility.
A statement by the airline’s Director of Flight Operations, Capt. Ibrahim Dilli, said that at the time of arrival of the aircraft, there was heavy rain and unstable winds.
He said, “Using their wealth of experience and knowledge of the terrain and environment to a safe landing and stop on the runway during which one of the engines slightly brushed the runway due to complex landing manoeuvres occasioned by strong downdraft, aircraft did not crash nor skid off the runway.
“All passengers and crew are safe and sound. All required reports of the incident have been filed.
“Officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Accident Investigation Bureau have inspected both the aircraft and runway and are satisfied.”
An eyewitness said most of the passengers were in shock, while two pilgrims fainted.
A returning pilgrim who was in the affected aircraft, Hajiya Asabe, said they were terrified, adding that as a result of the development, three women fainted.
“It was Allah that saved the situation. There was this loud noise, which caused panic and shouts from all corners.
“We started praying and then there was an impact during the landing process that shook the entire plane, which also heightened the panic.
“But Alhamdulillah, we are all safe aside from those who fainted and were rushed to General Hospital, Minna.
“When we alighted, we noticed that the aircraft landed by the side and part of its wings were cracked,” she said.
She said from the discussion by the officials, the pilot must have made a mistake during the landing process.
“We heard them saying it was a technical problem and that the pilot didn’t really get his acts right,” she said.
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) said it has commenced investigation into the incident.
The bureau said Max Air had notified it of the “serious incident” involving the airline’s Boeing 747-400 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-DBK which occurred during the final approach on runway 23 of the airport.
“From the information provided, the aircraft on landing screeched the runway while the number one engine brushed the runway surface and no injury was recorded,” it said.
It reiterated that its team of investigators has already commenced investigation and solicited assistance from any member of the public for any information or evidence that would aid the course of the investigation.