Pilots and other stakeholders in the aviation industry have called on Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to ensure that the navigational aids at the Port Harcourt International Airport are immediately fixed and updated to prevent a fatal accident. The pilots and other stakeholders made the call at the second day of the ‘Industry Engagement on the Review of Accident Reports’ event organised by the Nigeria Accident Investigation Bureau ,AIB-N. According to the pilots, the central line lights that guide the pilot to make a successful landing has not worked for years. “Over my almost forty years of flying now and making trips to Port Harcourt International Airport, the central line lights have never worked. The runway markings are not visible at night. Pilots make blind landing and only rely on their flight experience
“I am surprised that the aviation authorities have not closed that airport. At night the runway is always covered with layers of fog. This explains why planes are always skidding off the runway. The accidents and incidents in that airport have always followed the same pattern”, the pilot who refused to be named , because he is still in service, told a stunned audience at the event in Abuja. In his contribution, Group Captain John
Ojikutu (rtd), one of the discussants, said that most of the accidents that happened at Port Harcourt airport would have been prevented if the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other government agencies had performed their duties creditably. He said, “Necessary things are not always done when these serious incidents or accidents occur in the country. What is the category of ILS in Port Harcourt Airport? Whose responsibility is it to calibrate the ILS especially those in Port Harcourt airport.
“If it’s a military environment, you can say they have signed to die, but what about the civilians? Most of the foreign registered aircraft that we are using for commercial flights who do due diligence on them? For how long are they supposed to remain in Nigeria flying? A lot still needed to be done to sustain the safety we have in the industry.” Ojikutu called for periodic maintenance of runways to avoid crashes in the sector. Also speaking at the event, Captain Jide Bakare, a management staff with AIB-N, opined that NCAA should consider a mandated go-around policy for airlines in the sector to sustain safety in the industry, especially at the Port Harcourt.
Other participants at the event were unanimous that the runway, Instrument Landing System (ILS) and other facilities at the Port Harcourt International Airport have been in poor state over the years, adding that these had gravely contributed to loss of of lives and equipment.