By Abba-Eku Onyeka Abuja
The Director-General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera has underscored the need for additional scrutiny and precaution in the aviation sector in order to ensure safe operations and passenger satisfaction.
The DG made the assertion in a statement issued following an emergency landing of Arik Air Flight W3304 at Kotoka International Airport, Accra (ACC), Ghana last Tuesday evening.
He said that he acknowledged the efforts of the sector regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in that direction, insisting that the efforts should be reinforced to avoid incidents in the sector and to sustain consumer confidence, adding that the Council encourages relevant aviation authorities to ensure full compliance with local and other applicable consumer protection laws, regulations and protocols particularly, but not limited to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations Part 19.
Acknowledging that there had been reported accidents in world aviation in recent times, and incidents in Nigeria, the Council, however, hailed NCAA for its excellent performance and urged them to continue to ensure safe operations and passenger satisfaction.
The DG disclosed that on Tuesday March 6th, 2018, Arik Air Flight W3304 departed Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos (LOS) for Kotoka International Airport, Accra (ACC) at approximately 19:15hrs for a 55-minute flight.
The flight, according to him was operated by a Dash 8 Q400 turbo propeller aircraft, informing that close to arrival and approximately 81 miles from ACC, passengers reported smoke in the cabin of the aircraft.
The DG also informed that the captain confirmed that there was smoke in the cabin from an unknown source, but secured the operation of the aircraft.
He consequently declared an emergency and landed the aircraft in accordance with emergency landing procedures. All passengers and crew, he went on disembarked safely and ultimately received their baggage. The DG said that CPC understood that Ghanaian aviation authorities have been notified and (in partnership with NCAA) were in charge of inquiring into, and investigating the incident. The aircraft, according to him has remained on ground in Accra accordingly.
The DG also commended the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for its unprecedented attention and action in directing what he saw as a safety audit of a domestic airline involved in an incident, even as he advised consumers to always exercise their rights by demanding and insisting on appropriate services and providing timely information to relevant authorities in the event of irregularities.