Obasanjo, 393 Others Escape Plane Crash

An Ethiopian airline aircraft carrying 393 passengers today made air return after attempting to land at Murtala Mohammed International Airport as a result of poor weather condition.

Prominent Nigerians in the Ethiopian airline passenger aircraft, Boeing 777-300, included include Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Ayoola Olukanni the Director General of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Samson Tunde Adebayo, the Director of Ports Inspection, National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC) as well as scores of Nigerians and other nationals.

The passenger aircraft, ET-901, had departed the Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, at about 9:10 a.m., Ethiopian time; 7 a.m Nigerian time.

A NAN correspondent, who was among the passengers, recalled that the almost 5-hour flight from the Ethiopian capital to Lagos had been smooth until the pilot attempted to land at the Murtala Mohammed International airport. Rather than landing on the first touch line of the runway, the pilot over shot it, due to rain and heavy wind, almost landing on the third touchline.

NAN reports that, on realising this, the pilot quickly manouvered the plane back air, flying out of the Lagos airport. After hovering around between Lagos and areas suspected to be in Ogun, causing panic in passengers and crew members, the plane landed in Lagos airport, some 20 minutes after the initial false landing.

The atmosphere in the air bus upon landing was replica of what is obtainable in some Nigerian worship centers, as many passengers broke out into worship songs and clapping, while some fell to their knees in prayer.

Otori Jimoh Otan, the duty manager and Chief Customer Service (Nigeria) of the airline, told NAN that if the pilot had continued taxing down after landing on the third touch line, he would have overshot the runway. “But this is an experienced pilot. He realised this immediately.

“Fortunately, the distance between when he realised the situation still permitted him to take off and renegotiate landing,” Otori said.

He added that the incident was not out of place, while confirming that the wind obscured the pilot’s vision. Otori also disclosed that most of the aircrafts that flew out of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport had to fly against the mid-day heavy wind.

“These things happen. That is where the sophistication of the aircraft and experience of the cabin crew members come in.” The aircraft is one of the best you can have around and we are fortunate to have pilots who know their onions,” he said.

Obasanjo and Olukanni had both attended a Stakeholders Dialogue on Continental Trade and Strengthening Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which ended on Tuesday in Addis Ababa.

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