The Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero and 139 other passengers onboard Max Air flight yesterday escaped death when their flight that took off from the Aminu Kano International Airport (AKIA), Kano was hit by a bird, which forced one of the two-engine aircraft to malfunction, prompting the pilot to return to base.
THISDAY learnt that the aircraft, a Boeing 737 aircraft with the registration number: 5N: BBM had departed Kano for Abuja airport at 1:21pm, but made an air return barely nine minutes later when three blades in one of the engines were damaged by birds on take-off at the airport.
Eyewitness said the attack caused a big bang on the aircraft and the passengers were petrified, while many commenced prayers, not knowing what actually happened to the aircraft.
One of the passengers, Dr. Samaila Suleiman, said it was a near-death experience.
He disclosed that he heard a strange sound when the aircraft was taking off.
“I heard a strange sound during the take-off but brushed it aside. I have used aircraft many times but had never heard such a sound during take-off.
“The cabin crew members and the pilot were helpless because they apparently lost control of the aircraft.
“Not even that radio announcement was made until we saw ourselves back at the airport where we took off.”
The aircraft operated with only one engine while gaining altitude on take-off.
THISDAY gathered that it made heavy noise and vibrated in the air, as the pilot struggled to stabilise it and return to Kano airport to land.
It was learnt that the Pilot-in-Command later informed the passengers about the nature of the incident and returned to base to disembark the passengers.
The incident was confirmed by the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu in a telephone interview.
He explained that NCAA had immediately called for a meeting with the managements of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to deliberate on how such occurrence could be curbed in the future, stressing that bird strike could cause grave damage to aircraft.
“We are meeting with FAAN and NAMA on this issue of bird strike,” he said.
FAAN is in charge of the airports and its environment directorate is saddled with the responsibility to keep birds away from the airports, their environment, especially the flight route on takeoff.