‘Mad Man’ Strayed Into Lagos Airport Runway

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Arik
Air flight nearly crushed a man in ragged clothes and dishevelled hair who
stood few metres away from the touch down area at the domestic runway of the
Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, known as Runway 18L about 4:30
pm last Tuesday.
THISDAY learnt that another Arik Air
flight bound for Uyo was waiting at the threshold of the runway, known as
holding point for the arriving aircraft to land so that it would take off, but
as the aircraft was to touch down the passengers and the cockpit crew of the
waiting aircraft saw a man walking about near the landing point of the aircraft
and escaped being crushed by the tyres and the wing of the aircraft.

When the man identified as mad because
of his slovenly, ragged appearance was spared by the aircraft that landed, he
walked to the threshold where the Uyo bound flight was waiting and began to
knock at the aircraft door, requesting that door be opened for him.

Eye witness account disclosed that the
pilot of the aircraft was afraid that the man might walk farther towards the
engine of the aircraft and he would be sucked in and roasted, so he quickly
switched off the engine of the plane, sustaining the system of the aircraft,
including the air conditioning with auxiliary power unit (APU).
At that point the situation had become
an emergency so he quickly called the Control Tower and Aviation Security,
informing them about the man walking about in the most restricted area of the
airport.
The pilot who nearly landed his
aircraft on the man was said to have also called the Control Tower immediately
he landed and the incident was recorded on the log book by the Air Traffic
Controllers who were on duty at the time the incident happened.
“The pilot said that he feared for the
man’s life when he came knocking on the aircraft door because few steps would
have taken him into the engine of the aircraft that would have roasted him and
that was why he quickly switched off the engine. That would have been
catastrophic and tragic had it happened that way,” the source explained to
THISDAY.
It took 20 minutes before two aviation
security vehicles coming from the opposite sides, one from the international
side of the runway and the other from the General Aviation Terminal
(GAT)and  converged before the mad man.
Aviation Security officials jumped
out, held him and forced him into one of the vans and whisked him away and it
was then that the controllers allowed the aircraft lined up at the holding
point to begin to take off.
The Federal Airports Authority of
Nigeria (FAAN) explained that the man probably scaled the perimeter fencing to
gain entry to the runway.
This incident reinforces the fact that the in spite of the efforts made by the
agency, the airport is still porous.
About two weeks ago a stowaway was
found dead at the wheel well of Arik Air aircraft and that was the third time a
stowaway would be found dead in the wheel well of aircraft at the Murtala
Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Few years ago Air France flight nearly hit heads of cattle at the runway of the
Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
Runway incursion has been a regular
occurrence at the nation’s airports and this is attributed to lack of perimeter
fencing at most of these airports and that is why the International Civil
Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has not certified any of these airports because
they have not met accepted safety standards for their certification.
THISDAY learnt from FAAN source that
perimeter fencing at the Lagos airport “is not what it should be”; that it is
broken down here and there, especially at the Shasha area, adding, “We do carry
out regular patrol but when you leave an area for about 30 minutes, somebody
who has been watching you will use the opportunity to go in.”
Reacting to this incident, industry
operators who spoke to THISDAY said that FAAN should consider it as top
priority to complete the perimeter fencing project that is going on in some of
the nation’s airports.
One of the operators urged the agency
to intensify the regular patrol of the runways and the perimeter area of the
airport to ensure that runway incursion such as the above incident, did not
happen again.

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