Obasanjo,392 Others Aboard Ethiopian Airline Escapes Death

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and 392 others were yesterday thrown into panic as an Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Boeing 777-300 plane on which they were traveling had landing difficulties during the final approach into the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.

The airplane, which arrived during the morning rain, on approaching the runway, suddenly took off much to the discomfort of the packed cabin.

An official of the airlines said that the final approach maneuvering was due to the bad weather as the pilot had missed the approach area in an effort to land the Dreamliner.

The drag occasioned by the maneuvering took a lot by surprise and panic set in. It was learned that while many screamed, others went religious with different prayers.

Also among the passengers are the Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni and the Director of Ports Inspection, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Samson Tunde Adebayo.

One of the passengers, Shotunde, recalled that the almost five-hour flight from Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, to Lagos was smooth until the pilot attempted to land at the Lagos airport.

“It was raining and windy. We all could feel it but the plane continued to descend, though unsteadily. I think we missed the normal landing area, forcing the immediate takeoff just as we were about to touch down. It was all too sudden and very scary. It was not a nice experience,” he said.

After hovering around the city for a while, causing panic in passengers and the crew, the plane returned to Lagos route and eventually landed after about 25 minutes.

The Duty Manager of the airline, Otori Jimoh Otan, told reporters that if the pilot had continued taxing down after landing on the third touchline, he would have overshot the runway.

“But this is an experienced pilot. He realized this immediately. Fortunately, the distance between when he realized the situation still permitted him to take off and renegotiate landing,” Otori said.

Media consultant to the airlines, Ikechi Uko, said it was not a case of mishap but a missed approach due to bad weather.

Uko said the airplane was supposed to have diverted to Lome airport, in Togo, but the pilot decided to continue with the Lagos plan.

“He missed it the first time and took off, made a return and landed the second time,” he said.

• It’s a case of bad weather, says carrier

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