Passengers aboard Arik Air flight to Uyo from Abuja on Friday evening were gripped by fear and anxiety as aerodrome light went off at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo as the aircraft which was already on approach to the runway was forced to go up again as darkness descended on the airport.
One of the petrified passengers graphically narrated his experience and the timely calculation and action of the pilot who took off after hovering for about 25 minutes waiting for the restoration of the aerodrome light, before returning to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Narrating his experience, the passenger said: “Earlier this evening (Friday), I boarded Arik Flight W3 533 to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The flight was scheduled to depart Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 18.25 hours. We left about 7pm. By 21.35 hours, we were back in Abuja without landing in Uyo. Exciting ride it’s been.
“On approach into Uyo airport with landing gear fully engaged and less than 500 metres from the runway, the airport blacked out. As he re-engaged the engines to go up, the pilot informed us that the tower has told him there was a power outage at the airport. So they needed a little time to switch to alternative source. So we were told. Meanwhile, aircraft was in a holding pattern over Uyo. So we flew around and waited.
“After about 15 minutes, the pilot explained that the man responsible for turning on the back-up power unit was about 10-15 minutes from the airport and had been reached. So he was on his way back to switch it on. So we kept holding (hovering). Another 15 or so minutes later, we were told the man has arrived, that power would come on shortly and that we should expect to be down on the ground in Uyo in about 10 minutes. So we kept holding. Then about another 15 minutes later, instead of losing altitude, we began picking it up rapidly. Simultaneously, Uyo began receding rapidly from beneath us.
“Shortly thereafter, the pilot told us the keys to the power source for the alternative power unit were nowhere to be found and the tower had told him they could not power up for him to land. So we were to be returned to Abuja.