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Cablegate: Near Crash of Chanchangi Airliner Resurfaces

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS LAGOS 002595

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DAKAR PASS TO FAA ED JONES
DOT PASS SMCDERMOTT, CWHUNTER, KSAMPLE
FAA PASS FRAWLS III
BRUSSELS PASS TSA GMOORE
HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER PLEASE PASS TO TSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR PTER NI
SUBJECT: NEAR CRASH OF CHANCHANGI AIRLINER RESURFACES
QUESTIONS ABOUT AIR SAFETY


LANDING GEAR FAILS TO DEPLOY; PASSENGERS SAFE
--------------------------------------------- --

1. (U) Forward landing gear failed to deploy on a
Chanchangi Airlines (Nigeria) flight from Port Harcourt
to Lagos yesterday. According to report, the pilot of
the Boeing 272 detected problems as as it prepared for
landing at Murtala Mohammed International Airport
(MMIA). Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)
foamed the runway to reduce friction when the nose of
the plane skidded on the pavement, while the pilot
dropped remaining jet fuel into the Atlantic Ocean and
instructed the 70-75 passengers to prepare for a rough
landing. FAAN safety staff and firefighters were
repositioned along the runway. The plane landed
roughly but safely. No injuries were reported.

LAGOS AIRPORT CLOSED FOR SEVEN HOURS; FLIGHTS DIVERTED
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (U) The flight forced closure at MMIA between about
five p.m. and midnight yesterday. Most international
flights were delayed and one flight to South Africa was
cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Abuja,
other cities in Nigerian and Accra, Ghana. The
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has grounded
all Chanchangi flights for the time being. A
Chanchangi operations manager confirmed to us that FAAN
inspectors, flight engineers, and safety control
personnel are testing all Chanchangi aircraft today.
The airline hopes to resume passenger flights tomorrow.
and today is running test flights between Lagos and
Kaduna with Chanchangi to check mechanical functions.
FAAN contacts predict the airline will return to the
skies by later this evening.

KENYAN AIRLINER ALSO CATCHES FIRE
----------------------------------

3. (U) This was the second of two incidents at MMIA on
December 29. Six hours earlier, firefighters were
called to the runway to extinguish a fire in the
landing gear of a Kenyan Airwayslines aircraft as it
taxied to the terminal. fire emanating from its landing
gear. No injuries were reported.

4. (U) This is the third relatively close call in
Nigeria in recent months of which we are aware. Four
USG employees from AmConsulate Lagos were passengers
aboard a Bellview Airlines flight October 31. After
aborting landing due to high winds, the plane narrowly
cleared a building at the edge of the runway. The
plane then diverted to land on a different runway, in
the dark with no runway lights.

5. (SBU) Comment: These incidents highlight the uneven
state of Nigeria's domestic airlines. The domestic
airline sector is very active, with numerous daily
flights between the major cities of Lagos, Abuja, and
Port Harcourt alone. However, the civil aviation
inspection system is weak, and compliance with
international maintenance standards is probably low.
Better regulation of domestic airlines is needed now
more than ever, given the growth in domestic air
travel.

BROWNE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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