Bird aircraft strike forces Dana Airline's Flight 9J 995 to return at Lagos airport

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The damaged Dana Aircraft 9J 995 that suffered bird strike at the MMIA, Ikeja Lagos, yesterday.Photo by Lamidi Bamidele (Vanguard Newspapers)

By Chika Goodluck Ogazi

PANIC broke through the ranks of about 97 passengers aboard an Abuja-bound Dana Airline's Flight 9J 995 yesterday in Lagos as one of the aircraft's engines caught fire after being struck by a bird, forcing the pilots to make an emergency air return minutes after take-off.

It was learnt that the aircraft took off at Terminal 2 of the Murtala Muhammed Airport at about 9.20 a.m. and made the emergency landing at about 9.45 a.m.

A bird strike or Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) is a collision between an airborne animal and a man-made vehicle, especially aircraft. The term is also used for bird deaths resulting from collisions with man-made structures such as power lines, towers and wind turbines.

When the aircraft finally landed at the airport apron, passengers were allowed to disembark to the arrival hall.

An eyewitness said the aircraft upon take off at 9.20 a.m. from Runway 18 Left combusted thrice, releasing fire and a tumultuous noise from the left engine.
However, since it had already taken off and had reached a point of no return, it completed the turn around process and landed 20 minutes later.

Some of the lucky passengers of the Dana Airline flight 9J 995 en-route Abuja from Lagos that suffered a bird strike shortly after take off but managed to make an emergency landing at MMIA, Lagos.

It was also gathered that the explosive noise from the aircraft alarmed residents of Mafoluku area in Oshodi, which is close to the airport, who ran out of their homes in a bid to avoid becoming casualties of any sort after they saw smoke billowing from the aircraft.

Some of the passengers who spoke with journalists, said they did not know what happened until the pilot informed them that they were returning to the airport.

One of the passengers, Victor Uzoechi, said: "We did not notice any thing, only that we were informed that we were coming back. The airline officials told us to move to their office, so I do not know what their next line of action will be".

Another passenger, Babatunde Adeleke, said the plane had taken off when the captain announced that the Mc Donnell Douglas 83 (MD-83) aircraft engine was hit by a bird and was going to return to base.

His words: "The captain, after take off, announced to us that there was a bird strike and that it affected one of the aircraft engines and that we were going back to the MMA. We landed and they called us to their counter, I don't know what they want to do".

Another passenger, Mrs. Ade Balogun, who was on the aircraft with her daughter, said: "We thank God! My daughter, well thank God but we are going again".

Mr. Elle Karam, who was also onboard, said he was glad to be back on solid ground again, disclosing that his wife told him not to travel yesterday morning.

Karam said he was not aware of what happened because he was drunk the night before and slept off once on board the aircraft.

Chief Executive Officer, Dana Air, Jacky Hathiramani, who confirmed the incident, said: "We would like to thank all the passengers on board the flight for their cooperation and understanding, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and all other airport authorities for their responsiveness and support".

He also confirmed that the flight suffered a bird strike en route Abuja shortly after take-off and that in line with the airline's safety and service policy, the captain made an emergency landing at the airport.

Hathiramani added: "All 97 passengers and crew disembarked from the aircraft safely and the aircraft was taken to the hanger. Most of the passengers were booked on alternative Dana Air flight to Abuja while a few who preferred a refund were given.

"Dana Air places a high premium on safety and we would always strive to deliver high quality air transport services to our esteemed guests".

Bird strikes are a significant threat to flight safety and have caused a number of accidents with human casualties. Major accidents involving civil aircraft are quite low and it has been estimated that there is only about one accident resulting in human death in one billion (109) flying hours.

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