there was panic at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Sunday evening when the tyre of an Air Peace aircraft blew off and made a loud sound while it was already taxiing for take-off on the runway.
It was gathered that passengers on the aircraft, who were heading to Benin from Abuja, were terrified by the incident, as they stated that the pilot struggled to control the airplane before it was eventually towed to a safe location at the NAIA.
Impeccable sources at the airport also told our correspondent that it was a Boeing 737 aircraft belonging to Air Peace that was involved in the incident, which happened around 5:40 pm at the Abuja airport on Sunday.
“The aircraft was already running on the runway in preparation for take-off and suddenly one of the tyres blew off. The tyre burst while the plane was in the process to take off. This created panic among passengers but the pilot was professional enough as he controlled the plane before it was towed to a safe location,” a passenger, who simply gave his name as Johnson, said.
A source at the airport stated that “This happened around 5:40 pm and the airline is Air Peace. The aircraft involved is Boeing 737 and the tyre burst was so loud because the aircraft was already moving on the runway. This caused some form of panic among passengers and other people at the airport.
“The situation was, however, controlled and the plane was towed out of the runway and the terrified passengers alighted safely. The aircraft is out of use for now and engineers are now observing the plane at the airport.”
The spokesperson for Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, confirmed the development when contacted by our correspondent and stated that the airline’s engineers were deployed to check what happened to the aircraft.
He said, “What we had was a low speed reject and that means that the aircraft was taxiing when the pilot realised that one of the tyres had punctured and because of that he had to reject further taxiing for take-off. Now once this happens, the affected tyre will be changed; not by just anybody but by qualified engineers.
“However, the flight was from Abuja to Benin and once it is 6.30pm you can’t operate into Benin because of sunset. But if it were Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja or Lagos airports, you could operate into any of them and to some extent Kaduna. But other airports in the country, once it is sunset you can’t operate into them.”
Iwarah added, “Now this incident happened close to sunset and when they were changing the tyre that got punctured, we realised that it was already sunset. So we had no option than to cancel the flight. This was done in time so that people could return to their homes before it gets dark.
“The flight was rescheduled to take off tomorrow (Monday). However, no specific time was given because Benin currently experiences a lot of weather issues and so we have to be sure about the time before we send it to the passengers. But we are certain that the flight is for tomorrow (Monday).”