Bird strike: Arik aircraft escapes crash at Calabar airport
Passengers on board a Boeing aircraft belonging to Arik Airline escaped death on Thursday morning at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, Cross River State, when a bird flew into the engine section of the aircraft on the tarmac.
Our correspondent gathered that a disaster was averted because the pilot of the Calabar-bound aircraft, which left Abuja, had already negotiated to land when the aircraft had contact with the bird.
Though the nature of damage the bird inflicted on the aircraft could not be ascertained as at press-time, it was gathered that it got sucked into the hydraulic section of the aircraft and made it begin to malfunction.
Sources at the airport said the incident, which occurred at about 10am caused serious impact on the aircraft and affected its landing speed, but that the pilot was able to manage it to safety.
Our correspondent, who visited the airport, sighted the aircraft which was parked at one section of the tarmac waiting for engineers from Arik to conduct a proper assessment.
All efforts to determine the registration number of the aircraft were not successful because it could not be sighted and Arik officials refused to volunteer information.
Also, the number of passengers on board could not be officially ascertained, but unconfirmed sources said over 100 passengers were on on the aircraft.
An airport source told our correspondent that the incident sent jitters down the spines of the passengers, who watched as the pilot flew the aircraft to safety.
“Passengers were afraid because the bird strike affected the landing speed of the aircraft. All we saw was that the plane started malfunctioning at the point of landing and it was immediately ascertained that a bird had entered the hydraulic section of the engine.”
“We thank God the pilot was able to manage the situation. He managed to land it at that section of the tarmac and the passengers quickly disembarked the aircraft,” the source said.
Our correspondent gathered that the affected aircraft was newly acquired by Arik.
The Calabar Manager of Arik whose name was given as Emma Okon confirmed the incident on the telephone interview, saying it was a bird strike.
“It is true, but I am at the tarmac to supervise boarding of an aircraft that is about taking off to Lagos. Please, call me back,” he said at about 6.30pm.