Air Peace Boeing 737 Loses Both Nose Wheels In Nigeria

An Air Peace 737 crash-landed at Lagos Airport yesterday amid poor visibility and bad weather. The aircraft landed hard, causing the nose wheels to separate from the strut. All 133 passengers and six crew disembarked safely, although there was extensive damage to the runway and plane.

Air Peace 5N-BQO
The Air Peace 737 registered 5N-BQO lost its front wheels. Photo: Wikimedia

What happened?

The Air Peace Boeing 737-300, registered 5N-BQO, was performing flight P4-7191 to Lagos from Port Harcourt. According to Planespotters, the aircraft is 21.3 years old and has previously served for a number of other carriers, including Virgin Express, Brussels Airlines and Discovery Air. It entered service with Air Peace in May 2015.

On approach to the airport at Lagos, the pilot reportedly encountered some inclement weather. Due to reduced visibility, she requested to land on the international runway, which is longer and wider than the domestic strip.

As reported by the Aviation Herald, the aircraft suffered a hard landing, causing both nose wheels to separate from the nose gear strut. The plane skidded down the runway balanced on its main wheels and the remains of the nose gear strut. It finally came to a halt safely.

All the passengers and crew were reported to be safe, although one person sustained a minor injury. However, the damage to the aircraft and to the runway was substantial.

According to data at Flight Radar 24, the aircraft has not taken off again since the incident. The FAA issued a NOTAM in relation to the accident just after 11:30 local time, saying that runway 18R was closed.

It seems repairs were affected pretty swiftly, however, as a NOTAM saying it was opened again at 19:00 local time.

AIB investigating

Mr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), commented to the Daily Post that,

“The AIB has been notified by Air Peace on July 23 of an accident involving a Boeing 737-300 with registration marks SN-BQO at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at about 11:28a.m. The aircraft, with 133 passengers and six crew members on board, was on approach to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt.

“From the information provided, the aircraft nose wheel collapsed on landing on the runway (18R) and the nose wheel gear tire sheared off. The AIB was informed of a minor injury, but no fatality. Our team of safety investigators has commenced investigations,”

One passenger took to Twitter to recount her experience. Tweeting with the name @Ariellafitness, she said that passengers had been informed they would be landing on the international runway due to visibility issues. She then claims that the plane dropped rapidly, entering something of a nosedive, before the pilot regained control and came in for a very hard landing. The landing, she said, shook a ceiling panel loose.

Other reports suggest the aircraft ‘dropped 30 feet’ on approach, with some speculating that a pocket of turbulence could have been to blame.

Pilot praised for her quick response

Despite the severe damage to the aircraft and runway, the pilot in charge has been hailed a hero for avoiding a much worse disaster. Captain Simisola Ajibola has been praised by Air Peace for her decision making, with Chief Operating Officer Oluwatoyin Olajide told All Africa,

“Ajibola noticed sudden weather change when approaching Lagos and demanded to land on the International runway as it is longer and wider than the domestic runway. After landing safely and rolling to the runway exit, the nose wheel developed a problem and partial collapse. “The crew notified the airport authorities, who quickly ensured the safe disembarkation of the passengers via the passenger door.”

Air Peace maintain that they are committed to the safety of its passengers and that they will continue to operate in line with international practice and regulatory guidelines.

Previously, a 737 flown by Air Peace skidded off the runway during flooding at Port Harcourt. This latest incident has put something of a damper on the airline’s recent success in launching a new flight to Sharjah, Dubai.

Simple Flying has reached out to Air Peace for comment and will update this article when a response is received.