The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has described as baseless the allegation of burglary attempt on the cargo hold of one of the aircraft of Air Peace on the runway 18Right of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos as claimed by the airline.
The regulatory authority said that it reviewed all the reports from the relevant agencies concerning the incident and it was unproven, insisting that the airline lied about the theft attempt claim.
A statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye said that in line with Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), Aviation Security personnel were at the holding point of runway 18R monitoring the departure/take off of both Air Peace and Arik Air aircraft.
He hinted that the Pilot-In-Command (PIC) alarm triggered an immediate response and the escort team overtook the Arik aircraft for a more proximate field look and access to the Air Peace aircraft.
It would be recalled that a report on Friday had said that the PIC of Air Peace flight no. APK 7138 with aircraft no. 5N-BUJ had alerted the Lagos Control Tower that the aircraft’s AFT cargo compartment was opened.
According to the pilot in his report to the tower, he noticed that the cargo compartment light came up for 15 seconds and went off. This means someone has opened the compartment’s door.
The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) on duty confirmed receiving the report at about 1933hrs (1833GMT).
Adurogboye in the statement added that on full speed, with the full lights on, no person(s) was found within the vicinity of the aircraft, adding that the Arik aircraft, which was on queue immediately after the Air Peace aircraft was similarly put on observation at this point.
He added: “The Arik Air aircraft also had its full complement of lights on towards the Air Peace aircraft having being aware of his counterpart’s conversation with the Tower. With the benefit of this full view, neither movement nor any sign of person(s) was sighted around the aircraft.
“Thereafter the Air Peace PIC requested to taxi back to the apron at D45 to check if anything had been stolen. In addition, he wanted to clear his doubts that a bomb may have been thrown into the aircraft. At D45, the Airport Chief Security called the NPF-EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team who reported with their equipment at about 2026hrs.
“Passengers were disembarked at 2028hrs. The EOD team joined by Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) Aviation Security and Air Peace security conducted a search on the cargo compartment and the passenger cabin of the aircraft.”
Adurogboye emphasized that the search was completed at about 2055hrs and the aircraft was declared safe by the EOD team leader while the flight departed and landed safely at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
He explained that NCAA after a thorough investigation came to the conclusion that the runway 18R burglary report was unproven, largely unsubstantiated and therefore should be discountenanced.
He maintained that all aviation agencies are well motivated and prepared to carry out their responsibilities perfunctorily at all times.