FAAN Helpless As Disused Airplanes Pose Security Risk At Airports

  • Experts warn of exposure to danger

 

A few years after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) disposed of disused airplanes that littered the aprons of the domestic wings of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, the area is again growing with abandoned airplanes; a situation that is distorting the aesthetics of the airport and constituting security threat to the aerodrome.

A common sight strikes at airports throughout Nigeria’s major airports as old aircraft that belong to bankrupt airlines share the ground with on-duty planes and wear out in the weather. Some of these retired planes are waiting to be taken away to a safer place.

Findings revealed that the parking of disused airplanes particularly at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) is coming at a time the terminal operator is grappling with space following the increase in airline operations from the terminal, forcing planes that are to pick up passengers from the until other aircraft make a way out of the apron.

The parking of disused airplanes by airlines had been a recurring issue between the operators and the airport authorities.

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FAAN had been consistent with warnings that it would continue to remove abandoned aircraft to safer places or permanent abodes where ‘dead’ airplanes are kept, or a place called ‘mortuary’ rather than on the aprons or places that constitute a security threat.

Findings further revealed that different aircraft like B737 belonging to Air Peace, Hak Air, Aero Contractors and others owned by Overland, Dana IRS, Nicon, and many others including private jets belonging to famous clergies, banks, and other wealthy Nigerians that are out of operation sit pretty well in the area.

Reacting to the development, aviation security consultant and a former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd), told our correspondent that the parking of disused airplanes had shortened the space for operating airlines; a situation that has led to frequent collisions of airplanes that struggle for space on the apron.

According to him, “I have told the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and FAAN to look for another place for airlines to park their airplanes that are disused or waiting to be taken out for maintenance. “This is one of the reasons airlines are having delays in take-off which is a problem caused by the airlines themselves.

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“We need to be proactive to nip some of these security challenges in the bud. “If the airlines want to park their disused aircraft there, they need to take permission from the NCAA on how long they need to park there. Parking there in the first place for a very long time constitutes a security breach. It is more of a concern to the airport authority in the area of security. Criminals could easily use the abandoned aircraft as an abode to carry out criminal activities.”

He recalled an incident that occurred last year when suspected thieves broke into an Arik Air aircraft parked at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, stealing valuable gadgets.

The break-in, according to findings, has left the Boeing 737 aircraft grounded without its Flight Management Computer (FMC) and other accessories.

“Who is guarding those places? There have been reported cases of people going to cannibalise aircraft parts. People can go in there to hide, and sleep, thereby encroaching on the security of the airport and some other airports across the country. You have to hold FAAN and NCAA responsible for this. I want to believe that they are looking into that,” he added.

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There are indications that the difficulty in operating high fuel-guzzling aircraft like the B737-300, 400, 500 and the Airbus, MD-83 aircraft are forcing operators to jettison them for more fuel-efficient aircraft like Embraer, Bombardier, and the ATR among others that are dominating the country’s sky.

 

Many Nigerian airline operators are seeing the sense or gains of operating narrow-body aircraft. There is a paradigm shift in the way established Nigerian airlines are thinking just as new entrants are equally avoiding the mistakes of defunct carriers to operate smaller jets as opposed to the big B737, A320, and other regional jets that are too expensive to manage.

Wole Shadare