A multi – agency probe has commenced to ascertain how a US- bound Delta Airline’s aircraft lost one of its engines to fire minutes after take off for the 13-hour long haul flight.
The flight which departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos at around 10:30 p.m Tuesday had an emergency air return after the left engine was engulfed in fire.
The plane – A330-200 with registration number N858NW- landed successfully with all the 219 passengers evacuated though five of them were injured.
The pilot in command (PIC) reportedly announced the evacuation of all the passengers on board within 90seconds, after contacting the Control Towers because the left Engine of the Aircraft was said to have caught Fire mid air in-flight.
Passengers exited the aircraft on the runway through the emergency slides even as all emergency officials including airport fire service, aviation security officials, port health and aviation clinic, among others were on ground at the air side.
The aircraft was on the runway for over one hour before the departure of KLM, Lufthansa and Air France flights while the aircraft was towed with a push back truck to the open parking bay close to Boarding gate E 63.
Delta Airline confirmed that five passengers with "non- critical" injuries were hospitalized while the remaining passengers were put in different hotels overnight.
Meanwhile, another aircraft arrived the airport by 3pm from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to airlift the passengers to the United States last night.
The airline also confirmed that in the early hours of Thursday, 15th February 2018, another aircraft will arrive Lagos Airport to airlift more Nigerians to the US same day.
As at the time of filing this report, Delta airline crew members were meeting with the AIB, the body responsible for accident investigation in the aviation after the bureau rebuffed attempt by the airline to tow away the aircraft.
AIB Commissioner/CEO, Engr. Akin Olateru in a chat with newsmen said investigation has commenced on the incident even as he decried the failure of Delta Airline to immediately notify the bureau in accordance with Annexe 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
He lamented that the airline flouted regulations by failing to notify the accident bureau in the country of occurrence while it had notified the US National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB).
Akinteru said: "Delta as an airline has refused to notify AIB in accordance with the law of our country. But they notified the US NTSB but they refused as at 3pm today (yesterday), there is still no notification from Delta as to this serious incident.
"We have an obligation to notify ICAO on this serious incident but unfortunately, we cannot fulfil that obligation because we are still waiting for Delta to give us information as to this serious incident. This is a serious incident and by law we are investigating.
"There is what they call country of occurrence and Nigeria is a country of occurrence of this incident. Yes, it is a US carrier, US operator, US registered aircraft but there are certain state protocols which has to be respected that gives right of investigation to the country of occurrence except the country of occurrence decides to cede that investigation to country of operator or any other country."