A major air mishap was averted on Wednesday as a Max Air jet, which landed on runway 18L of the Lagos airport, almost rammed into a car that was being tested on the runway.
It was reliably gathered that a Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s Civil Department van developed a fault and the officials were forced to invite an auto technician from outside the airport to fix it.
After fixing the vehicle, the auto technician decided to carry out a test drive on the runway when the FAAN officials who were meant to stay with him while he was fixing the vehicle were said to be nowhere to be found.
Multiple airport officials later confirmed that while the auto technician was test-driving the car on runway 18L, a Max Air plane arriving from Abuja with passengers on board suddenly landed and faced the moving car.
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The pilot of the speeding plane was forced to rapidly halt the speeding aircraft’s roll-on process, as he struggled to avoid a collision with the car.
The pilot immediately put a radio call through to the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency’s air traffic control officials on duty at the control tower who also alerted Aviation Security and airfield officials of FAAN on duty.
The officials immediately rushed to the runway to arrest the auto technician who was identified as Opeyemi Soyombo.
According to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, “Mr Opeyemi Soyombo was apprehended on our airside because of an incursion into the runway. Unfortunately, he shouldn’t have, because all our drivers receive training in airside driving. So, it was negligence on the part of our colleagues to have left someone that has no business on the airside at all.
“The mechanic is not to blame. He doesn’t know the rules. He was just hired to go and repair a vehicle. As far as I’m concerned, the mechanic is not to blame. It is my colleagues that are to blame for leaving someone that has no business being on the airside on the airside. The MD has said they should all be given query for doing that. We are very grateful that we were able to avert what could have been an incident.”
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed the development.
In a statement, titled ‘Runway incident: FAAN suspends airfield staff, commence investigation,’ the agency said the affected staff members had been suspended.
It said, “Following an averted near-incident involving a Max Air aircraft from Abuja, which landed on Runway 18L, and a maintenance vehicle belonging to the Civil Department of the authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has suspended the airfield officer on duty at the time of the incident.
“The authority has also commenced full-scale investigation into the incident, with a view to preventing future re-occurrence of such incident.”