By UCHE USIM
Spasms of shock ran through the spines of airport officials when a boy jumped out of the undercarriage of an Arik Air plane as it landed at Lagos Airport. The boy was instantly arrested.
Recounting the chilling story to newsmen yesterday, spokesman of the airline, Banji Ola said the pilot of its Benin-Lagos service (flight W3 544), while departing Benin Airport for Lagos at 9.00am yesterday alerted the control tower of the presence of a strange boy in the bush about 200-300 meters at the end of runway 23.
“The control tower told the captain that they were sending securitymen to the place to arrest the boy. As the captain was making his final turn, preparatory for take-off, a cabin crew called his attention to the information by some of the passengers that they saw a boy running towards the airplane.
“The First Officer confirmed that they had observed it earlier and alerted the control tower, which responded that they had sent the patrol team to arrest the boy.
“The captain again reported to the control tower and was informed that the situation was under control and that he had been cleared for take-off,” Ola explained.
However, on arrival at the domestic wing of MMA, Lagos, a teenage boy, who apparently had sneaked into the aircraft main wheel well jumped out and was arrested by Arik personnel and handed over to the security men of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Ola expressed the shock of Arik management, wondering how the teenager beat the aviation security personnel at the Benin Airport to get to the runway.
“We are worried by the incessant security lapses at our airports. We are appealing to the management of FAAN to immediately address the problem”, he said.
The problem of stowaways is becoming rampant in Nigeria, a development that aviation experts warn should be tackled before it grows worse. They however noted that the boy was able to survive because the flight was a short one as he would have frozen to death if it was to be a long-haul service.
A stowaway was found dead in an Arik Air A340-500 aircraft in October 2012 when the airplane returned from JFK airport in New York, USA.