An Accra bound Arik Air Flight W3304 from Lagos Tuesday day night was alleged to have caught fire 35 minutes after take-off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The 55 minutes flight was operated by a Bombardier Q400 (Dash 8) aircraft and took off at about 7:20 p.m. Nigerian time.
A passenger who narrated his experience on the flight, said the fire was noticed when an acrid smell of burning plastic wafted through the cabin of the aircraft, accompanied by huge smoke, which the passenger who declined to disclose his identity, said could not be traced by the frantic cabin crew.
The passenger who provided details of the incident, described it as a horrible experience which could have been fatal.
According to the passenger, “Thirty-five minutes into the 55-minute flight, I started smelling something like a burning stuff. Shortly after, the guy sitting next to me asked if I could smell something burning and that confirmed my worst fears.
“Before you could say Jack Robinson, smoke had filled the cabin. The air hostesses were busy scampering around opening the cabins and the lavatories to check if they could trace the source of the smoke without success.
“While that continued, the oxygen masks that are always advertised during the safety demo prior to take-off could not be released, instead we were handed tissue paper to cover our noses to minimise and filter any possible carbon monoxide inhalation.
“About five minutes after, precisely with 15 minutes of flight time remaining, the pilot came on the public address system to inform us that they have smoke coming into the cabin but they did not know the source of the smoke and that they have declared an emergency.”
The passenger said he was relieved when the flight successfully landed by 8.15p.m. (7.15 p.m. Accra time) into the waiting arms of several fire service trucks at the Kotoko International Airport, Accra.
“We were evacuated into a waiting bus with instructions to leave everything behind in the cabin. Sadly. there was no Arik official to address us, nor was there any manner of first aid given to the passengers to manage stress and possible elevated blood pressure.
“After a while our cabin luggage were brought to us and we had to leave from there to go through the Ghanaian immigration to our individual destinations,” he added.
Since the incident occurred neither the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA.) nor the management of the airline has issued any statement on the incident.
Reacting to the incident, the communications manager of the airline, Banji Ola, said in a statement: “Arik Air Flight W3 304 from Lagos to Accra on March 6, 2018 declared an emergency in line with standard operating procedures when an unknown source of smoke was detected in the cabin 81 miles from Accra.
“The captain of the flight briefed the passengers accordingly, assuring them that the aircraft was under control and safe for landing in Accra.
“The aircraft, a Dash 8 Q400, landed safely in Accra without further incident and all passengers disembarked normally.
“The aircraft is currently parked in Accra and our team of engineers are conducting a comprehensive inspection on the aircraft to ascertain the cause of the smoke, after which the aircraft will be flown without passengers to a maintenance facility for rectification and testing.
“The relevant aviation authorities in Ghana and Nigeria have been briefed appropriately on the incident.”