16 March 2014, Lagos – Aviation authorities have grounded a N4bn private jet belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which overshot the Osubi Airport runway in Warri, Delta State, about a year ago.
There are also indications that the aircraft with registration number 5N-NOC may not be allowed to fly again.
The Beechcraft 4000 Series composite-bodied jet en route Abuja overshot the runway on landing at the Osubi Airport, on February 6, 2013. It had four people on board when the incident occurred but no casualty or injury was reported.
Industry sources said the grounding of the aircraft by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority was for safety reasons.
The sources, who did not want their names published because they were not authorised to speak on the issue, said the plane could not be allowed to fly because the damaged composite body, could not be fixed.
A top official of the NCAA specifically said the aircraft could not be released to fly because “it was damaged.”
The Accident Investigation Bureau, the aviation agency investigating the incident, had taken custody of the plane’s Flight Data Recorder to enable it to determine the reason the aircraft overshot the runway, one of the sources said.
A flight data recorder is an electronic device employed to record any instructions sent to any electronic system on an aircraft. It is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters, according to wikipedia.
Another source at the Ministry of Aviation, who also spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the United States-based manufacturer of the aircraft, Hawker Beechcraft Corporarion, had refused to provide the back-to-service manual requested by Aerocontractors engineers to fix the damaged part of the plane.
Aero was operating the multibillion naira jet on behalf of the NNPC before the incident.
It was also learnt the AIB was not willing to release the FDR to Aero for fear it might tamper with the content, a situation that could affect the outcome of the investigation into the incident.
The sources also said the AIB was having a challenge decoding the flight device.
When contacted on the telephone, the Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer, AIB, Captain Usman Muktar, told our correspondent he was in a meeting. When he was called later, he did not pick the call.
The spokesman for the agency, Mr. Tunji Oketumbi, could not be reached for comments. His two telephone lines were not going through as at 5pm on Friday.
Some aviation experts put the price of the Hawker 4000 series at $25m (about N4.1bn). But some online platforms, including Wikipedia and jetadvisors.com put it at $20m (N3.3bn).
The plane was acquired by the NNPC about three years ago.
Hawker Beechcraft’s Hawker 4000, more commonly known as the Hawker Horizon, came into service in 2005. Hawker Beechcraft had high hopes for the private jet, having designed it to meet the high standards of comfort and performance required in the super midsized category of aircraft, reported jetadvisor.com.
To give the Hawker 4000 a competitive edge, the manufacturer had selected a carbon fibre fuselage, making it the first business jet to use it.
Hawker 4000 and the Bombardier Challenger 300 are similar in many areas.
The spokesman for the NNPC, Dr. Omar Farouk, did not respond to text messages and telephone calls.
– The Punch