major air mishap was averted on Wednesday as a Max Air jet, which landed on runway 18L of the Lagos airport, almost rammed into a malfunctioning car that was being tested on the runway.
Investigations revealed that a Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s Civil Department van had developed a fault, and officials were forced to invite an auto technician from outside the airport to fix it.
Unconfirmed sources told the newspaper that the FAAN workers resorted to fetching a technician from the city because the agency’s department meant to cater to such a situation probably lacked the applicable personnel.
Findings revealed that after fixing the vehicle, the auto technician decided to carry out a test drive on the runway.
But the FAAN officials who were meant to stay with him while he was fixing the car were said to be nowhere to be found.
It was learnt that the auto technician had called the FAAN officials who invited him to the airport but there was no response. He consequently decided to test-drive the vehicle and headed straight on runway 18L.
Multiple airport officials later confirmed that while the auto technician was test-driving the car on runway 18L, a Max Air plane arriving from Abuja with passengers on board suddenly landed and faced the moving car.
The pilot of the speeding plane was forced to rapidly halt the speeding aircraft’s roll-on process, as he struggled to avoid a collision with the car.
The pilot immediately put a radio call through to the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency’s air traffic control officials on duty at the control tower who also alerted Aviation Security and airfield officials of FAAN on duty.
The officials immediately rushed to the runway to arrest the auto technician.
A top official of FAAN, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, confirmed the development.
The official identified the auto technician as Opeyemi Soyombo but blamed the agency officials for negligence.
The official said, “Mr Opeyemi Soyombo was apprehended on our airside because of an incursion into the runway. Unfortunately, he shouldn’t have, because all our drivers receive training in airside driving. So, it was negligence on the part of our colleagues to have left someone that has no business on the airside at all.
“The mechanic is not to blame. He doesn’t know the rules. He was just hired to go and repair a vehicle. As far as I’m concerned, the mechanic is not to blame. It is my colleagues that are to blame for leaving someone that has no business being on the airside on the airside. The MD has said they should all be given query for doing that. We are very grateful that we were able to avert what could have been an incident.”