The federal government yesterday announced the ban of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, from flying in the country’s airspace, pending the conclusion of the investigation into the Ethiopian Airline aircraft that crashed on Sunday.
Minister of Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, stated this at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Sirika who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting that lasted for over two hours, said directives had been issued to that effect.
Daily Trust reports that on Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft operating flight ET 302 en route Nairobi from Addis Ababa crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 persons on board.
Sirika said: “There is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9, pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.
“Regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal, whatever affects one affects the other because aircraft will be flying in and out.
“So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out,” he said.
On Air Peace and Arik that have ordered for the aircrafts, he said, “whether those orders were confirmed or intent, it is to our knowledge in the ministry that they won’t be in the country until the next two years or so. And this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane.
“The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping. And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market to see if there is something they are doing wrong. And if it is confirmed that a particular problem say, for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fix.”
FG approves N6.4bn for equipment in four airports
Meanwhile, the council has approved N6.4bn for safety and security equipment in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Minna airports.
The approvals for the projects were granted during the FEC meeting. Sirika said the first memo was for the supply and installations of X-ray machines, cargo scanners and walk through metal detectors at Enugu airport at N529,382,700 with a completion period of 12 weeks.
He said the council also approved upgrade and rehabilitation of the main intake transformer, landing system and domestic transformer of 11 KVA underground circuit at the Mallam Aminu Kano International airport at N719,332,450 with completion period of 12 weeks.
Also, the council approved the award of contract for the procurement of security and safety projects at the nation’s airports Phase II which include the supply of extreme x-tray machines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport.
He said the contract sum was N4,530,955,500 and that the installation of the equipment was in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard.
The Aviation minister said council also approved the rehabilitation of Minna airport terminal building which has been abandoned for lack of funding. He said council approved the variation in the sum of N622,544,326.17 for the completion of the airport in 12 months. Before the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, he said Nigeria’s score was 60 percent on security but that currently it has scored is 96.7 percent on aviation security.
“By May when the administration will be sworn in for its second term, Nigeria’s score would have risen to 98 percent in security and safety according to ICAO,” he said.