Federal Government Cries Out Over N37bn Debt Owed By Airlines

 

The Federal Government has raised concerns over a 37 billion naira debt owed by airlines.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika told a media conference today that the airline debt owed agencies like Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has accumulated for over thirteen years and contributes to the poor management of Nigeria’s civil aviation sector.

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According to Mr. Sirika, the Federal Government will, in line with current reforms double down on such debtors like the Bi-Courtney which owes N14 billion.

He said, “It is about N37 billion that they (airlines) are owing, especially Arik, the culprit. I know they are owing us about N14 billion. If you owe the government, you owe FAAN. Bi-Courtney owes about N14 billion as of the last count. It has not paid a single dime since the time it started to run the terminal building. And we have not ceased giving him electricity, water, fire cover, and so on. He hasn’t paid a dime for 13 years.”

Based on the position, the government is in intensifying plans towards the concessioning of international airports in the country by the early second quarter of 2022 and has been duly consulted organised labour, Sirika added.

The minister also stated that a total of 67 accidents have occurred in the last five years, of which 48 have been reported under the present administration to drive transparency in the system.

Death Toll In Philippines Military Plane Crash Rises To 50

 

Philippine security forces searched among coconut trees on a remote southern island Monday for the flight data boxes of an aircraft that crashed and killed 50 people in one of the country’s worst military air disasters.

The C-130 Hercules transport plane was carrying 96 people, most of them recent army graduates, when it overshot the runway on Sunday while trying to land on Jolo island in Sulu province — a haven for Islamist militants.

The plane “skidded” and burst into flames in a village, killing 50 people including 47 military personnel and three civilians, said military spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo.

Another 53 were injured, most of them soldiers. It was not clear if the pilots were among the survivors.

“This is one of the worst tragic incidents that happened in our armed forces,” Arevalo said.

The three civilians killed were not on the flight and had been working in a quarry, village leader Tanda Hailid told AFP.

Photos of the scene released by the military’s Joint Task Force-Sulu showed the damaged tail and smoking wreckage scattered in a coconut grove.

“We have people on the ground to make sure the integrity of the pieces of the evidence that we will retrieve, most particularly the flight data recorder,” Arevalo said.

“Aside from eyewitness accounts, we are also looking for recordings, radio conversation recordings between the pilot and the control tower.”

Arevalo said the military had secured the crash site and would ensure militants on the island do not disrupt search efforts.

Dental records were being used to help identify the charred remains of victims.

Most of the passengers recently graduated from basic military training and were being deployed to the restive island as part of a counter-insurgency effort in the Muslim-majority region.

The military has a heavy presence in the southern Philippines where militant groups, including the kidnap-for-ransom outfit Abu Sayyaf, operate.

‘Worst crash’

C-130s have been the workhorses of air forces around the world for decades, used to transport troops, supplies, and vehicles.

The second-hand Hercules that crashed Sunday was acquired from the United States and delivered to the Philippines earlier this year.

It was one of four in the country’s fleet and was in “very good condition”, the military said. Two others are being repaired while the third has been grounded following the crash.

“These are all seasoned and experienced pilots, that’s why we are also unable to immediately say how this… (happened),” said Arevalo.

“Even if these (military assets) are not brand new… these are airworthy.”

“This ranks as the worst crash of a Philippine military aircraft with 50 dead so far as compared to the 40 dead in a 1971 crash of a PAF C-47,” Jose Antonio Custodio, a military historian and analyst, told AFP.

It was the latest in a series of recent military air accidents in the Philippines.

Last month, a Black Hawk helicopter went down during a night-time training flight, killing all six on board. The accident prompted the grounding of the country’s entire Black Hawk fleet.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said Monday the incidents would provide “impetus for further modernisation” of the armed forces.

“The whole country is mourning,” he said.

Passenger Tries To Break Into Cockpit On US Flight

 

 

A passenger on a US airplane tried to smash his way into the cockpit until another traveler and members of the aircrew tackled him and pinned him down, witnesses said.

The Delta Air flight from Los Angeles to Nashville made an emergency landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the man was dragged off the plane with his hands and feet secured by zip ties.

He had repeatedly screamed “Stop this plane” as he was wrestled to the floor at the front of the cabin, according to a phone camera footage of the incident on Friday.

An unnamed passenger told CNN that the man “seemingly unprovoked, just got up and rushed the pilot’s cabin and began banging on the doors.”

Another passenger, Jessica Robertson, described the scene as “terrifying” but praised flight attendants for acting quickly.

The FBI in Albuquerque confirmed on Twitter that it had responded to the incident.

Delta, in a statement to US media, expressed “thanks to the crew and passengers of Delta Flight 386, LAX to Nashville, who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger.

“The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement.”

The remaining passengers spent five hours in Albuquerque before a new flight took them to Nashville.

AFP

Trump ‘Offered Kim Jong Un A Ride Home On Air Force One’

US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shake hands following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. PHOTO: SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

 

Donald Trump offered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a ride home on Air Force One after a summit in Hanoi two years ago, according to a new BBC documentary.

Kim and Trump first engaged in a war of words and mutual threats, before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance that featured headline-grabbing summits and a declaration of love by the former US president.

But no substantive progress was made, with the process deadlocked after the pair’s meeting in Hanoi broke up over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

According to a BBC documentary, “Trump Takes on the World”, the US president “stunned even the most seasoned diplomats” by offering Kim a lift home on Air Force One after the 2019 summit in Vietnam.

If Kim had accepted the offer, it would have put the North Korean leader — and probably some of his entourage — inside the US president’s official aircraft and seen it enter North Korean airspace, raising multiple security issues.

In the event, Kim turned it down.

“President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One,” Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump’s National Security Council, told the BBC, it reported at the weekend.

“The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: ‘I can get you home in two hours if you want.’ Kim declined.”

For his first summit with Trump in Singapore in 2018, Kim hitched a ride on an Air China plane, with Beijing keen to keep North Korea — whose existence as a buffer state keeps US troops in the South well away from China’s borders — firmly within its sphere of influence.

During the Singapore summit, Trump gave Kim a glimpse inside his presidential state car — a $1.5 million Cadillac also known as “The Beast” — in a show of their newly friendly rapport.

But last month Kim said the US was his nuclear-armed nation’s “biggest enemy”, adding that Washington’s “policy against North Korea will never change” no matter “who is in power”.

North Korean official media have yet to refer to Joe Biden — who beat Trump in last year’s election — by name as US president.

Boeing Calls For Grounding Of Some 777s After Denver Engine Fire

An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. 
An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Boeing called for the grounding of 128 of its 777 planes across the world on Sunday as US regulators investigated a United Airlines flight whose engine caught fire and fell apart over a suburban American community.

United, Korean Air, and Japan’s two main airlines confirmed they had already suspended operations of 62 planes fitted with the same family of engines which scattered debris over Denver on Saturday.

The US National Transportation and Safety Board is also investigating the incident, in which no one was hurt.

Boeing warned similarly fitted planes should be taken out of service until the Federal Aviation Authority had determined an inspection procedure.

“While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines,” the company said.

Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said they had respectively grounded 13 and 19 planes using PW4000 engines but had avoided flight cancelations by using other aircraft.

The Japanese transport ministry said it had ordered stricter inspections of the engine after a JAL 777 plane flying from Haneda to Naha experienced trouble with “an engine in the same family” in December.

United said it had voluntarily removed 24 Boeing 777 planes from service and expected “only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.”

South Korea’s transport ministry said it had no immediate plans to ground planes, adding it was monitoring the situation.

But Korean Air, the country’s largest airline and flag carrier, said it had grounded all six of its Boeing 777s with PW4000 engines currently in operation.

“We have decided to ground all our PW 4000 powered 777s, and we expect the FAA’s updated protocol soon,” the company told AFP in an emailed statement.

The FAA earlier ordered extra inspections of some passenger jets.

Steve Dickson, the head of the regulator, said he had consulted with experts and that some airplanes would “likely” be removed from service.

“I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines,” he said in a statement.

Dickson added that a preliminary safety data review pointed to a need for additional checks of the jet engine’s fan blades, which were unique to the engine model and only used on 777 planes.

Officials from the FAA were meeting with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing representatives on Sunday evening, he added.

Fresh blow for Boeing

Flight UA328 had been headed from Denver to Honolulu when it experienced an engine failure shortly after departure.

Residents in the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large pieces of the plane scattered around their community.

No one onboard or on the ground was injured.

But the engine failure marks a fresh blow for Boeing after several high-profile aviation accidents.

The manufacturer’s 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after 346 people died in two crashes — the 2019 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.

Investigators said a main cause of both crashes was a faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Boeing was forced to revamp the system and implement new pilot training protocols.

The 737 MAX was a big hit with airlines, becoming Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft until its grounding, which has now been lifted.

After the Covid-19 crisis decimated demand, airlines canceled hundreds of orders for the plane.

Danger Averted As United Airlines Boeing 777 Suffers Engine Explosion

An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. 
An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

 

A United Airlines plane suffered a fiery engine failure Saturday shortly after taking off from Denver for Hawaii, dropping massive debris on a residential area before a safe emergency landing, officials said.

A video shot from inside the aircraft — which had 231 passengers and 10 crew onboard — showed the right engine ablaze and wobbling on the wing of the Boeing 777-200, it’s cover entirely missing as the aircraft flew over a barren landscape.

There were no injuries on the plane or on the ground, authorities said.

“I can honestly say I thought we were going to die at one point — because we started dropping altitude right after the explosion,” passenger David Delucia told The Denver Post.

“I grabbed my wife’s hand and said, ‘We’re done.'”

Delucia said his stepdaughter tweeted the online video, which was shot by another passenger.

“Flight UA328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departure, returned safely to Denver and was met by emergency crews as a precaution,” United Airlines said in a statement.

“The majority of customers originally on UA328 are currently on their way to Honolulu on a new flight,” it added, saying those who did not wish to travel immediately had been provided with hotel accommodation.

‘Mayday, mayday’

In a recording of the distress call obtained from the website LiveATC, which broadcasts air traffic communications, the pilot requested emergency permission to turn back to Denver.

“Three-twenty-eight, uh, heavy. We’ve experienced engine failure, need to turn. Mayday, mayday,” he said, without obvious panic in his voice.

“Mayday, aircraft, uh, just experienced engine failure,” he said, after the tower asked him to repeat himself. “Need a turn immediately.”

Meanwhile, residents in the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large pieces of the plane scattered around their community, including a giant circular piece of metal that landed in the yard of Kirby Klements.

“It was a little overwhelming,” he told CNN.

“It landed square on top of my truck and fell off,” he said, reporting that a separate large piece of debris had put a five-foot (1.5-meter) hole in a neighbor’s roof.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was “aware of reports of debris in the vicinity of the airplane’s flight path,” adding that the agency and the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating the incident.

“If you find debris PLEASE don’t touch it or move it. The @NTSB wants all debris to remain in place for investigation,” Bloomfield police tweeted.

It posted photos of debris scattered across a sports field at a park, including one piece of the plane with a warning message painted in red: “Stand clear of hazard areas while engine is running.”

United said it would “continue to work with federal agencies investigating this incident.”

Heather Solar was running a practice at the park for her girls’ soccer team when she said she heard an explosion, following by debris raining down.

“Honestly, what I thought it was at first… I thought we were being bombed,” Solar told The Denver Post. “There was so much debris in the sky.”

AFP

Officials Find Body Parts At Indonesian Plane Crash Site

 

Indonesian investigators said Sunday they found body parts off the coast of the capital Jakarta where a budget airline plane with 62 people on board crashed shortly after takeoff.

“As of this morning, we’ve received two (body) bags, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts,” Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV.

Signal from downed plane in Java Sea

Meanwhile, Indonesian rescuers said Sunday they had detected a signal from a Boeing passenger plane that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff with 62 people on board.

A military vessel “has found the signal from (Sriwijaya Air) SJ182” and divers had recovered parts of the plane from around 23 metres (75 feet) below the water’s surface, the transport ministry said in a statement, citing Indonesia’s military chief Hadi Tjahjanto.

The ministry did not specify if the signal was detected from the downed plane’s black box.

COVID-19: FG Approves N5bn Bailout Funds For Airline Operators, Others

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

 

The Federal Government has approved the sum of N5billion as a bailout for airline operators and other business owners in the aviation sector to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the country’s aviation industry.

The announcement was made on Monday by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Minister said the sum of N4billion has been approved as a bailout for airline operators and an additional N1billion for other business owners in the aviation sector.

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Sirika says the government’s decision to offer the bailout is based on recognition of the pivotal role of the aviation sector to the Nigerian economy.

The Minister made the announcement when he appeared at the Senate for a public hearing in respect of the repeal and the reenactment of the laws establishing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The announcement by the Minister comes after the Senate Committee on Aviation called on the Federal government to bail out airlines to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

However, the Chairman of the Senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the amount for the proposed bailout is inadequate for airlines who are battling to survive.

FG Approves Restructuring Of NCAA, Cuts Directorates To Six

FG Sacks Directors Of NCAA
A logo of the NCAA.

 

The Federal Government has approved the restructuring of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the safety oversight agency of the aviation industry in the country.

NCAA Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Captain Musa Nuhu, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday

He explained that the restructuring affected the directorates of the agency – the major organs of the agency.

Nuhu revealed that the directorates which used to been nine have now been cut down to six.

He listed the new and retained directorates to include the Directorate of Airworthiness Standards (DAWS), Directorate of Operations, Licensing and Training (DOLT), and Directorate of Air Transport Regulations (DATR).

Others are Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS), Directorate of Finance and Accounts (DFA), and the Directorate of Human Resources and Administration (DHR&A).

The NCAA boss noted that the Directorate of Consumer Protection (DCP) and Directorate of General Aviation (DGA) have been phased out.

He added that while the former was merged with the DATR, the latter was subsumed under the Directorate of Airworthiness Standards.

According to Nuhu, the government has appointed two new directors to take charge of the Directorates of Airworthiness Standards (DAWS) and Operations, Licensing and Training (DOLT).

“The newly appointed directors, who are aviation professions with several decades of industry experience in their areas of expertise in the aviation industry, are Engineer Kayode Ajiboye for DAWS and Captain Elisha Bahago for DOLT,” the statement said.

The NCAA boss stated that the approved restructuring was aimed at repositioning the agency for effective and efficient service delivery.

He said it was also to entrench a robust safety oversight system, in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and recommended practices, while enabling the regulatory body to resolve current and emerging challenges facing the industry.

International Flights May Resume Before October – Sirika

Air Peace Aircraft Collide At Lagos Airport
A file photo of a Nigerian Airline, Air Peace.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday, said international flights in and out of the country may resume before October.

Sirika revealed this in a tweet while dismissing reports the resumption date has been set.

International flights have been suspended in the country since March 23 in a bid to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Domestic flights were also suspended but have since resumed in June as the country tries to roll back coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

“International Flight resumption date is not October,” Sirika said. “NAMA just issued a routine 90 day Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).

“In liaison with Health, Foreign Affairs & PTF COVID-19, we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, UAE etc. May be earlier than October.”

Be At Airport 90 Minutes Before Departure, FG Tells Travellers

(File Photo) The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika gives a press conference during a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing.

 

The Federal Government has asked air travellers to report at the airport at least 90 minutes before their departure time.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this call on Monday via Twitter.

Sirika also appealed to air travellers to endeavour to check-in online.

“My colleagues and I have reviewed passenger facilitation at our airports, consequently I am happy to announce that, henceforth travellers are to arrive one hour and a half before their departure time for domestic flights,” the tweet read.

This development comes a month after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) advised passengers to get to the airport at least three hours before departure due to safety checks.

Airport operations were suspended in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

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On July 1, Sirika announced that the Abuja and Lagos airports will resume on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports will reopen on July 11.

Other airports are expected to reopen on Wednesday 15 July while the resumption date for international flights will be announced later.

Domestic Aviation Services To Resume As Soon As Practicable

A file photo of the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu.

 

Domestic aviation service operators have been granted permission to resume operations as soon as practicable.

This is according to the national coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Sani Aliyu.

Making clarifications during the PTF briefing on Monday, Mr. Aliyu also noted that while the current curfew will remain, the Federal Government has lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.

Mr Aliyu who was expatiating on a brief made by the chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, further revealed that students in graduating classes will be allowed to resume as part of plans for the second phase of eased lockdown.

He, however, warned that the use of face masks will be strictly enforced, stressing that those without masks will not be granted entry into government and commercial premises.