...Approves new equipment for Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Minna airports
Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Federal Government has banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 airplanes from flying into the nation’s airspace.
The ban follows a fatal crash of an Ethiopian airline Boeing 737 Max 8 recently.
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told State House Correspondents this at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
With this ban, Nigeria has joined India, Singapore, China, and the European countries in banning the Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airlines from operating in its airspace.
He said: “Regarding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 that has been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane.
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9, pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.
“Regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal, whatever affects one affects the other because aircraft will be flying in and out.
So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out.
“Regarding Air Peace and Arik orders, whether those orders were confirmed or intent, it is to our knowledge in the ministry that they won’t be in the country until the next two years or so.
And this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane. The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping.
And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market and see if there is something they are doing wrong.
And if it is confirmed that a particular problem say for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fixed.
“So, this case is not different. We pray for the souls of the departed and pray that the industry will continue to be safe and secure.
We promise you that we are alive to our own responsibility which is to secure lives and property as a government.”
Sirika said the FEC also approved a contract for safety and security equipment and for terminal building in Minna.
The first memo approved is for the supply and installations of X-ray machines, cargo scanners and walk through metal detectors at Enugu airport at the sum of N529, 382,700 million with a completion period of 12 weeks.
The council also approved upgrade and rehabilitation of the main intake transformer, landing system and domestic transformer of 11 KVA underground circuit at the Mallam Aminu Kano International airport at N719, 332,450 million with completion period of 12 weeks.
Sirika said council also approved the award of contract for the procurement of security and safety projects at the nation’s airports Phase II which include the supply of extreme x-tray machines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport. The contract sum is N4, 530,955,500 billion.
He said the installation of the equipment is in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard. He said before the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s score was 60 percent on security but currently its score is 96.7 percent on aviation security.
He said by May when the administration will be sworn in for its second term, Nigeria’s score would have risen to 98 percent in security and safety according to ICAO.
The Aviation minister said council also approved the rehabilitation of Minna airport terminal building which has been abandoned for lack of funding. He said council approved the variation in the sum of N622, 544,326.17 for the completion of the airport in 12 months.
Meanwhile, the black boxes from the Ethiopia Airline plane that crashed, killing 157 people will be sent to Europe for analysis, a spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday.
“They will be taken to Europe,’’ Asrat Begashaw said. He said it would be decided “today or tomorrow” which country would receive the boxes.
Asrat also said the pilot had reported flight control problems and had requested to return to Addis Ababa, from where the plane took off en route to Nairobi.