Stakeholders want Port Harcourt Airport shut over deplorable facility | Dailytrust

Stakeholders want Port Harcourt Airport shut over deplorable facility

Players in the Nigerian aviation industry have raised concerns over deplorable safety critical facilities at the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Port Harcourt.

They however called for the closure of the airport to avoid any major accident.

This emerged at the second day of  the ‘Industry Engagement on the Review of Accident Reports’ organised by the Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N).

The event held in Abuja and virtually reviewed no fewer than eight final reports on serious incidents recently released by the AIB-N with stakeholders lauding the foremost air accident and incident investigation body for churning out several safety recommendations which have improved safety of the Airspace.

They observed that the number of serious incidents and accidents that have occurred at the Port Harcourt over the years had made the airport unsafe for flying.

They decried the poor state of the runway, Instrument Landing System (ILS) and other facilities at the airport, noting that urgent action must be taken to prevent further loss of lives and properties.

Daily Trust reports that the most fatal crash at the airport was the Sosoliso crash of December 2005 which killed 107 people.

One of the participants who pleaded anonymity insisted the Port Harcourt Airport was a no go-area for flight services.

The participant who is a retired pilot said the Port Harcourt Airport has remained the same for his over 40 years of flying with difficult approach.

“There are trees all over as you are landing and it is even more difficult at night without light. I don’t know why it is still open,” he said.

Grp. Capt. Ojikutu (rtd), one of the discussants, in his submission said that most of the accidents that happened at Port Harcourt airports were identical and preventable if the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other government agencies had done their due diligence.

He said: “Necessary things are not always done when these serious incidents or accidents occur in the country. What is the category of ILS in Port Harcourt Airport? Whose responsibility is it to calibrate the ILS especially those in Port Harcourt Airport.

“If it’s a military environment, you can say they have signed to die, but what about the civilians? Most of the foreign registered aircraft that we are using for commercial flights who does due diligence on them? For how long are they supposed to remain in Nigeria flying? A lot are still needed to be done to sustain the safety we have in the industry.”

Another participant, Engr. Gbolahan Abatan, noted that the airport should have been shut at the time of Hawker Siddeley HS -125-800XP serious incident in June 2005.

However, General Manager, Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) and Airworthiness, NCAA, Engr. Godwin Balang, said the airport is still safe for flight operations though not yet certified by the NCAA.

He disclosed that NCAA had implemented over 70 percent of safety recommendations from AIB in recent years.

According to him, out of a total 37 safety recommendations made to NCAA, the body had fully implemented 29, two were partially closed while the authority disagreed with five others.

He also declared that Port Harcourt Airport was safe for flying and dismissed the notion that the regulatory body was not carrying out its functions critically at the airport.

He added: “To build an airport and maintain such is not easy. Many of the airports operate on cost recovery. Port Harcourt Airport is safe for flight services. Port Harcourt Airport is not yet certified by NCAA; only Abuja and Lagos airports are certified.”

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