A passenger aircraft belonging to Overland Airways, which left Ibadan for Abuja on Monday, had to abandon the journey around Minna, Niger State and make a detour to Lagos for emergency landing, after its windshield was broken.
The plane, which left Ibadan around 8am, had on board a former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Lanre Ogundipe, an officer in the Accountant-General of the Federation’s office, Mr. Demola Akinlabi, and 55 others.
Ogundipe, who spoke to our correspondent from Abuja on the incident, said the aircraft was in good condition before the windshield broke, adding that a major tragedy was miraculously averted.
“We started well but midway around Minna in Niger State, the pilot made a detour to Lagos, which was strange. We later got to know that the windshield broke and the flight could not continue for long,” he said.
Ogundipe added that the passangers had to be evacuated and put in another aircraft, which arrived Abuja in the afternoon.
However, the Managing Director, Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo, told our correspondent that what happened was not a major incident but a logical discretion by the pilot to rectify a faulty pane.
He said, “It is not true that our aircraft made an emergency landing in Lagos because of the broken windshield. It was not true also that it made a detour in Minna. The information was wrong. The plane left our hangar in Lagos for Ibadan today and was on its way to Abuja when the pilot discovered that that the outer pane had cracked.
“He could have continued if it would be possible to change the pane in Abuja or Ibadan, but in his technical wisdom, he returned to Lagos where it could only be fixed. It was not technically a major incident. It would be a major incident if the inner pane had cracked.”
The Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt. Nogie Meggison, also said that a broken outer pane of an aircraft was not enough to be classified as a major fault.
He said, “Let us thank God first that we did not have a crash, which technically would not have happened with a cracked outer pane of the aircraft. A lot of reasons can cause the crack and one of them is the impact of take-off or landing.
“The pilot might have returned to Lagos because that is where the operational headquarters of his company is located, and more importantly, that is the only place where the minor fault can be fixed. The pane is not an ordinary glass. It has several layers with mercury in-between.”
Confirming the incident, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency said in a statement that the domestic flight 1170 operated by Overland with ATR-42 aircraft diverted from Ibadan en-route Abuja to Lagos following a reported cracked windshield.