The Federal Government on Wednesday announced a ban on Boeing 737-Max aircraft flying in Nigerian airspace after the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed on Sunday, killing 157 people.
The decision was taken at the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
Also,United States President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that the US was grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of Sunday’s crash, according to AP.
The US aviation leadership followed up with a formal order, saying it “made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analysed today (Wednesday).” The agency said the grounding would remain in effect “pending further investigation.”
The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told State House correspondents after the FEC meeting that both the Boeing 737-Max 8 and Max 9 were affected by the ban.
The minister said, “Regarding Boeing 737- Max 8 and Max 9, that has been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of plane.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737- Max 8 and Max 9, pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.
“Regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane, 737-Max, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal; whatever affects one affects the other because aircraft will be flying in and out. So, we have issued a directive that no operator with Boeing 737-Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and out of our airports, and this is being carried out.
“Regarding Air Peace and Arik (that placed) orders, whether those orders were confirmed or intent, it is to our knowledge in the ministry that they won’t be in the country until the next two years or so. And this is period is enough to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane.
“The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping. And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in an accident back-to-back, it is withdrawn from the market and see if there is something they are doing wrong. And if it is confirmed that a particular problem, say for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such a plane worldwide until the problem is fixed.”
Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday said it would send the black boxes recovered from the crashed Boeing 737-Max 8 to Europe for analysis.
“The black boxes are going to Europe. The airline and the investigations bureau are currently meeting to determine which country,” spokesman for the company, Asrat Begashaw, was quoted as saying.
“There are several possible countries. We will make a decision very soon.”
Begashaw said active investigation was still on as of Wednesday but that the bodies would be released to the families in the coming days.
Still on Wednesday’s meeting, Sirika said the meeting approved N529.3m for the supply/installations of X-ray machines, cargo scanners and metal detectors at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The minister also said the council approved N719.3m for the upgrade and rehabilitation of the main intake transformer, landing system and domestic transformer of 11 KVA underground circuit at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
Similarly, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja , MAKIA, Kano, and the Port Harcourt International Airport got approvals for security upgrades, totalling N4.5bn.
Sirika added that the Minna Airport too was approved for rehabilitation at the cost of N622.5m.
On her part, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the FEC approved €64.7m facility for a national urban water sector reform project in Kano State.
She explained that the facility came from the French Development Agency and would address the water needs of up to1.5 million people in the ancient city.