The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has begun investigation into the smoke in an Aero Contractors aircraft enroute Lagos from Port Harcourt.
Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, confirmed the development to newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.
The Aero Contractors flight NG316 was engulfed in smoke about 20 minutes after take-off, causing panic among the passengers.
The situation prompted the deployment of firefighting trucks to the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2, Lagos, to curtail any fire when the plane carrying 52 adults and one infant finally landed.
Adurogboye said NCAA had been notified of the incident, adding that the aircraft was immediately grounded for investigations.
“Our team of investigators are currently working to find out what caused the smoke because that is part of the responsibility of the NCAA,” he said.
Similarly, the media consultant to Aero Contractors, Simon Tumba, confirmed that the airline’s management, led by Ado Sanusi, had ordered for full scale investigation into the incident.
Tumba, in a statement on Wednesday, said the management also commended the pilot and the entire crew for the professionalism they displayed in handling the situation.
“There have been different accounts of the incidents with some claiming that the smoke came from the baggage compartment while other allude to all manner of unverified claims.
“But the management of Aero said it regrets any inconveniences the incident might have caused its esteemed passengers and assured it will get to the root cause of the matter,” he said.
According to him, preliminary reports has it that at 1645 GMT about 75NM to Lagos at 24,000ft, the cabin crew observed that the cabin was misty.
He said this was reported to the captain, who briefed the passengers accordingly, assuring them of a safe landing in Lagos in a couple of minutes.
“Expectedly as announced by the pilot, normal descent was initiated into Lagos. While descending however, a passenger went into the lavatory, after which the lavatory smoke detector alarm came on.
“The cabin crew again reported this incident to the Captain and by this time the smoke was getting denser in the cabin.
“Ready and armed with “Aft Cargo Smoke” indication in the flight deck, the crew carried out the smoke dispersal procedures and contacted air traffic control at 1655GMT, requesting for emergency support services and proceeded to Lagos, which is the airport with the full complement of emergency support.
“At this stage again, the cabin crew reassured the passengers and handed out wet towels to them as a precautionary measure for such incidents,” Mr. Tumba said.
He said the captain also announced to the passengers to be calm as the smoke in question did not present any irritation or discomfort.
Tumba said the aircraft landed at 1703 GMT and the company engineers had carried out the routine systems checks, and reported all normal.
He added that the management of the airline reported the incident to the appropriate authorities in the country and another round of thorough investigation was ongoing.