Louis Ibah and Uche Usim
The Federal Government on Tuesday assured Nigeria’s flying public on the safety and airworthiness of aircraft operating or flying into the country’s airspace even as more countries around the world announce the suspension of the Boeing 737-800MAX airplanes following safety concerns after a crash involving the Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa on Sunday.
The Ethiopian Airlines B737 Max NG on Sunday was the second within 5 months coming on the heels of the Indonesia’s Lion Airlines incident in November 2018 .
Meanwhile, following the unfortunate development, Australia, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, Germany, France, Austria, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union, on Tuesday joined Indonesia, China, India, Cayman Island, and Ethiopia to ban the use of the Boeing 737-800MAX in their airspace.
In a spontaneous reaction to the rising global aviation response banning the use of the aircraft in their various jurisdictions, Boeing shares dropped by 13 per cent on Monday, even as speculations were rife that more countries would ban its use in the days ahead.
In Nigeria, where Air Peace was already awaiting the delivery of 10 of the B737MAX-8 aircraft, some airline operators told Daily Sun that they recorded a drop in passenger patronage with many fearing that the accident prone aircraft type was already in operation in the nation’s airspace.
This prompted some industry stakeholders to call for a halt in the supply of the aircraft for use by the local carrier in line with global trend.
President of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Mr. Gabriel Olowo, told journalists yesterday that “these series of fatal accidents call to question the safety in the design of the Boeing 737-800Max series by the manufacturer and its certification to fly by the US FAA – the safety regulation authority in the country of manufacture.”
“Aviation regulatory bodies should therefore demand that the aircraft be temporarily grounded from commercial operations pending the determination of the cause of its incessant crashes,” Olowo said.
But the Nigerian government on Tuesday dispelled fears the aircraft was already in use in the country, assuring “there was no cause for alarm.”
Industry regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in a statement said “it is consciously monitoring the developments globally regarding the suspension of the Boeing 737MAX aircraft with a view to taking necessary steps that will enhance the safety of all aircraft in operation within the Nigerian airspace.”
“There is no cause for alarm. Presently, the accidented aircraft type, Boeing 737 – Max 8 is not in operation in Nigeria,” spokesman for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said in a statement.
“The NCAA wants to reassure the public that it will continue to ensure that safety regulations are strictly adhered to for safety of all in Nigeria,” he added.
For his part, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika speaking with journalists in Abuja also assured the flying public that the government has not issued any licence to any airline to fly the Boeing 737MAX aircraft in the country.
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