What may have been another tragedy in the Nigerian aviation industry was averted yesterday as the door of an aircraft belonging to Dana Air fell off while taxiing to the apron side of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to disembark passengers.
This latest incident is coming five years after Dana Air Flight 992 from Abuja to Lagos crashed, killing 153 people on board and 10 more on the ground.
On Sunday, 3 June 2012, the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft operating the flight crashed into a furniture works and printing press building in the Iju-Ishaga neighbourhood of Lagos.
The crash of Flight 992 is the deadliest aviation disaster involving a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, as well as the second-deadliest involving an MD-80 series aircraft. It is also the second deadliest aircraft crash on Nigerian soil, behind the Kano air disaster of 1973.
A source close to the scene of the incident at Abuja Airport on Wednesday said the aircraft, which is also an MD 83, had departed Lagos for Abuja with about 120 passengers on board. This is as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that it had immediately commenced an investigation into the incident.
One Ola Brown, who said he boarded the flight, said the door was unstable throughout the flight.
“Flew Dana. Exit door was unstable throughout the flight. As we touched down it fell off,” he stated on his Twitter handle.
Another passenger, Dapo Sanwo, said there had been indications of alleged lack of maintenance of the aircraft.
According to him, “I also was on that flight. The door panel was loose indicative of lack of maintenance.”
The spokesman for Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, confirmed the incident. He however said that the door could not have opened without a conscious effort by a passenger to open it,
But some of the passengers said there was no passenger or crew member anywhere near the door when it fell.
Ezenwa said by design, the emergency exit door of “our aircraft are plug-type backed by pressure, which ordinary cannot fall off without tampering or conscious effort to open by a crew member or passenger”.
“We also wish to enlighten the author that, when an aircraft is airborne, it is fully pressurized and there was no way the seat or door could have been ‘shaking’ as insinuated,” he added.
Ezenwa declared that a thorough inspection was however being carried out on the aircraft in Abuja by its engineers and a team from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and no issue was reported, adding that there was no threat to safety at any point during the incident.
According to him, the aircraft was only delayed for eight minutes, saying that the airline needed to demonstrate to the regulators that the safety and comfort of its guests were at the center of its operations.
He added that a thorough investigation into the incident was ongoing.
Besides, the General Manager, Public Affairs of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye who confirmed the incident said that the regulatory body has commenced an investigation into the issue.
He said that NCAA is carrying out a follow-up investigation on the matter, but also confirmed that the door has been fixed while the aircraft is back to Lagos.
“We have investigated the issue and inspected the airplane. We are doing a follow-up investigation on how and why the door came down. Meanwhile, the door has been fixed. The aircraft landed in Abuja. The incident happened in Abuja. The aircraft is back in Lagos and it was from Lagos that we carried out the investigation on the aircraft,” he added.
An aviation expert, Tunde Harrison, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that had the incident happened while the plane was airborne, the passengers would have been “suck out”.
“There would not have been any survivor,” he said.
What happened on your flight @DanaAir??? An emergency door falling off a moving plane? 😮 What of if this happened mid-air? What on Earth is going on? @RotimiAmaechi & @hadisirika, Nigerians demand an immediate explanation and sanctions. This is UNBELIEVABLE! pic.twitter.com/QB3rQCJy88
— Osasu Obayiuwana (@osasuo) February 7, 2018