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FG Bans Boeing 737 Max Airplanes

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The federal government has banned  Boeing 737 Max airplanes from flying into Nigeria’s airspace  until further notice.

Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the  Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

This is a direct reaction to the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crash on March 10 morning enroute from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew  on board.

Subsequently, the European Union, UK, China and India banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying over their airspace due to concerns over passenger safety.

Also Ethiopia, Singapore, China, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia have all temporarily suspended the 737 Max.

The aviation minister yesterday reiterated that no operator in Nigeria was using that type of airplane.

He said: “Regarding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 that have been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane.

“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.”

He remarked that “regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane, Boeing 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal – whatever affects one affects the other, because aircraft will be flying in and out.

“So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max  8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out.”

Speaking on the orders placed by Air Peace and Arik for the supply of that brand of airplanes, the minister noted that they would not be delivered in the country until the next two years “and this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane.

“The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping. And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market to see if there is something they are doing wrong. And if it is confirmed that a particular problem, say for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fixed. So, this case is not different,” he said.

Sirika gave assurance that authorities would be alive to their responsibility, which is to secure life and property.

Meanwhile, briefing journalists shortly after FEC meeting yesterday, minister of state Aviation, Hadi Sirika said FEC approved a contract for safety and security equipment and for terminal building in Minna.

According to him, the first memo approved by the council for his ministry is for the supply and installations of X-ray machines, cargo scanners and walk through metal detectors at Enugu airport at the sum of N529,382,700, with a completion period of 12 weeks.

He added that the council also approved the upgrade and rehabilitation of the main intake transformer, landing system and domestic transformer of 11 KVA underground circuit at the Mallam Aminu Kano International airport, Kano, at N719,332,450, with completion period of 12 weeks.

Sirika said council also approved the award of contract for the procurement of security and safety projects at the nation’s airports Phase II which include the supply of extreme x-tray machines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport. The contact sum is N4,530,955,500.

Sirika, who  said the installation of the equipment is in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard, added that  before the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s score was 60 percent on security but is currently 96.7 percent.

He noted that  by May when the administration will be sworn in for its second term, Nigeria’s score would have risen to 98 percent in security and safety, according to ICAO.

While disclosing that council also approved the rehabilitation of Minna airport terminal building, which has been abandoned for lack of funding, Sirika said council approved the variation in the sum of N622,544,326.17 for the completion of the airport in 12 months.

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