Ikeja - The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said on Sunday that it further tightened its risk amelioration procedure, following an incident at the Benin Airport involving a teenage stowaway.
This is contained in a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Communications of FAAN, Yakubu Dati, and made available to newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a teenage boy was arrested on Saturday by Arik Airline security personnel at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, for allegedly sneaking into the airline’s main wheels.
The statement said that the procedure was to ensure that a similar incident at Benin airport on Aug. 24 did not recur, adding that the risk amelioration processes were put in place to safeguard flight operations.
According to the statement, the account of the incident as narrated by the management of Arik Airline were completely different from FAAN's findings.
"On Saturday Aug. 24 at about 09.05hrs, ARIK flight 544 departed Benin Airport for Lagos. The normal Runway inspections were conducted by FAAN Security at 07.30hrs and 08.50hrs.
"These runway inspections are conducted routinely every day, by a FAAN Security patrol team and are aimed at preventing animal and human incursions unto the aircraft manoeuvring areas of the airfield.
"Our investigations reveal that a passenger on board the flight called the attention of the cabin crew while the aircraft was waiting to take off at the threshold of the runway.
"They told the crew member that they had seen a young boy walk under the aircraft and had not seen him re-appear either side. The cabin crew in turn informed the pilots in the cockpit about this.
"The pilots called the control tower and asked them to request FAAN to do a sweep of the area after their departure, opting to carry on with their flight in despite the report.
"Immediately upon the departure of the aircraft, FAAN's security did another sweep of the area and found nothing unusual''.
The statement noted that upon the arrival of the aircraft in Lagos, FAAN was informed that there had been a stowaway found alive alighting from the wheel well of the aircraft.
"While FAAN takes this security breach extremely seriously, we deem Arik's attempt at indicting and smearing FAAN as irresponsible.
"Safety and security breaches occur when all the check in the system are beaten.Security is a responsibility for all players in this industry,” it said.
The statement further said that had the airline taken the information by passengers as seriously as they should have, the incident would have been avoided.
However, Ola Adebanji, the airline’s spokesman, while speaking to newsmen in Lagos, said that on arrival of the aircraft at the airport, the teenager jumped out of the aircraft main wheel.
He said that the boy had been handed over to the FAAN security.