What would have been a disaster at the Margret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, Cross River State, was averted by the expertise of the pilot after a bird strike caused one of the engines of a Boeing 737 / 800 series to malfunction.
The plane (name withheld) belongs to a Nigerian airline.
It had almost completed its taxiing when the bird strike occurred, forcing the pilot to abort the flight – experts say a jet is at its most vulnerable if it suffers a bird strike just after taking off or when it is about to take off.
The plane which was Lagos bound witnessed the bird strike at about 12:30 pm, Thursday, and the incident left most of the passengers who refused to enter the plane again flustered, even after the crew of engineers that were flown down to Calabar gave an all clear for the engine.
Officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority were also on hand to certify the plane fit to fly.
Workers at the airport, who witnessed the incident and pleaded anonymity, commended the pilot for saving what they said would have been a major disaster as over 100 passengers were on board.
One of the eye witnesses revealed that the equipment normally used to scare the birds away before planes take off was not used that day.
After fixing the affected part at about 6pm, it was gathered that less than 20 passengers accepted to fly with the same plane that finally left the Calabar Airport at 9pm that day.
Efforts to get the airline officials to comment proved abortive.