Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has recounted his experience aboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777-300 that flew into inclement weather preparatory for landing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
He was among the 394 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft which took off from Addis Ababa en route Lagos.
Obasanjo and the Director-General Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture ( NACCIMA) , Ambassador Ayo Olukaniwere were returning from Addis Ababa, where they attended a stakeholders’ meeting on Continental Trade and Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) ended Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at the Ethiopian capital.
They said the pilots of the aircraft simply followed standard operating procedures and precautionary measures in the circumstances leading to final approach of the aircraft, by smoothly pulling up and subsequently lining up with the runway for a second approach.
Obasanjo who had been erroneously reported by his aide not to be on flight, said there was nothing unusual about the flight.
Speaking to an online platform, the former president said he was unperturbed about the development.
Obasanjo told the medium: “I was on the Ethiopian Airline. Rain just came down heavily.
“The pilot thought he could land. And he landed. He touched down. But I think he took a swift decision that he had to take off again.
“So he took off. If he did not, I think he probably would have overrun the runway.
He then apologised and said he would try to land again. He tried again, and we landed safely. And we all clapped.”
On his reaction, while the pilot initiated the safety precautionary steps, Obasanjo said :
“One man, who was next to me, said, ‘Oga you no worry?’ I said, ‘Íf I worry, what should I do? If you are on a plane and you have a situation like this, why should you worry?’ So, I left everything in the hands of God.”
The ex-military head of state said the pilot first landed the plane at about 12:20 p.m. before the incident, but finally landed safely on return at 12:30 p.m.
“He touched the ground. Then he took off and apologised and landed again at about 12.30. We spent just about 10 minutes in the air before we landed again,” he said.
On his part, Olukani said: “I thank you all for your calls and messages concerning the flight from Addis Ababa where I had gone to represent NACCIMA at the African Union / United Nations stakeholders Dialogue on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook. All I can say is that the whole event about the flight the ET 901 was simply sensationalized and exaggerated probably because former Obasanjo was on that flight.
” And it was not as bad as they are painting it. Aborted landings and second approach are normal in aviation in such weather conditions with pouring rain.
“The Captain simply followed standard operating procedures and precautionary measures in the circumstances on the final approach.
” He pulled up smoothly and it was a steady climb; Thereafter he lined up with the runway for a second approach. And we had what in aviation circle is known as “XTD” Excellent TouchDown. Former President Obasanjo and FAAN have also responded to correct the story. I thank you all; all the same. ”
According to the Nation, aviation experts have cautioned against sensational reporting saying missed flight approach by any aircraft pilot does not amount to escaping an air crash.