Passangers escape death as bird strike damages Aero Contractor’s aircraft 


Abiola Seun

Scores of passengers and crew members escaped death on Monday as bird strike hit Aero Contractor Flight NIG 382 on take-off at the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), River State.The aircraft, a Boeing 737-500 with the registration number 5N-BKR, was heading to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja before the bird strike  incident on Monday afternoon thereby damaging the aircraft blade in the process.

It was further gathered that the aircraft had departed PHIA for Abuja with 91 souls onboard, i.e 85 passengers and six crew members at 2:06pm.

However, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu confirmed the incident, saying  the aircraft encountered bird strike on take-off at the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Megwa.

Capt. Nuhu explained that the pilot made a circuit and returned to base within eight minutes after the incident, maintaining that the action of the pilot was in order.

According to him, the incident led to the damage of the aircraft’s blade, stressing that the airline’s engineers were currently fixing the damage part of the aircraft.

Nuhu explained further that Aero Contractors brought another aircraft to airlift the passengers to Abuja within 90 minutes of the incident, stressing that the damaged part of the aircraft was undergoing repairs in Port Harcourt.

He said, “Boeing 737-500 aircraft with the registration number: 5N-BKR belonging to Aero Contractors departed Port Harcourt to Abuja, but, during takeoff, had a bird strike and the pilot continued the take-off, made a circuit and returned to land.

“That is what is supposed to be done. Pilots are trained for that. At the point he had the bird strike, he could not abort the takeoff. So, he continued with the takeoff and returned to base. They restarted the engine and discovered that some parts of the blades were damaged. Within 90 minutes, Aero Contractors came with a different aircraft to rescue the passengers.

“As we speak, maintenance is going on to fix the damaged blade and when they finish, NCAA inspectors will inspect it and certify it if all the parameters; engines, blades and others are okay, they will be released for flight.”

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