Plane Crash: After US Ban, FG Makes U-turn

By Uche Mbah

After the US government placed a blanket ban on Boeing 737 Max 8 throughout the entire United States, the Federal Government, in a volte-face, decided to ban the aircraft from the Nigerian Airspace.

President Trump, after days of pressure, on Wednesday placed a blanket ban on Boing 737 max 8 from the American airspace, thereby reversing the earlier position that the aircraft will continue to fly pending result of crash investigations. Some 42 countries have banned the aircraft that has been involved in two major mishaps in a space of five months. Both crashes witnessed no survivors. The aircraft was certified by American Civil Aviation Authorities.

The ban was a joint decision of both the American and Canadian governments, which tried to connect the dots between the two crashes involving the aircraft. And Indonesian air crash five months ago was also a max 8, and the cause of the crash was traceable to similar computer malfunction.

Few hours after the American ban and minutes after the Federal executive Council meeting, the Minister of state for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced a total ban of the aircraft within Nigerian airspace.

Less than twenty four hours previously, the Nigerian Civil Aviation authority, NCAA, image maker, Sam Adurogboye, has told this magazine that banning the aircraft amounts to panic measure, insisting that countries should wait until investigations are done and advisory pronounced.

In a complete negation to that position, Sirika said the safety records of the aircraft do not obliterate the fact that it has caused concern in the world of Aviation.

“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”, he said, confirming the NCAA position.

“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.”

This Magazine has reported that two Nigerian airlines-Airpeace and Arik-have ordered for the aircraft, and may not be in a hurry to cancel their respective orders.  But the Minister says it will take two years to deliver, contrary to the position of the NCAA, which give a four-year time lag.

Sirika said two years is enough for boeing to sort out the mess.

“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 periods 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 to 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.”

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