Dana Air passengers say the exit hatch that fell from a Dana Air jet as it landed had been malfunctioning throughout the flight. The airline says “not possible” and blames passengers for the whole ordeal.
Passengers on a Dana Air flight from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) to Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV) last week, described the scary moment when the exit door of the MD-83 fell off just moments after the plane touched down. Some passengers say that in addition to a potentially serious malfunction, the airline almost immediately attempted to cover up the incident.
“The flight was noisy with vibrations from the floor panel,” one passenger on the flight told BBC News. “I noticed the emergency door latch was loose and dangling. When we landed and the plane was taxiing back to the park point, we heard a poof-like explosion, followed by a surge of breeze and noise. It was terrible.The cabin crew tried to say a passenger pulled the hatch which everyone denied. They also tried to get us to stop taking videos or pictures.”
Now, Inc. reports Dana Air has launched a concerted and openly aggressive campaign to discredit passengers’ accounts of the events. The company which has twice had its flight certificate suspended, has publicly blamed passengers for the mishap. Airline officials have even taken to lecturing media outlets which have published passenger accounts of the misadventure. Although passengers on the flight are sticking to their story and there are no eyewitness accounts to back up the carrier’s assertions, it seems the facts in this case might just be on the airline’s side.
“We wish to state categorically that this could never have happened without a conscious effort by a passenger to open it,” the airline announced in a strongly worded statement. “By design, the emergency exit door of our aircraft are plug-type backed by pressure, which ordinary cannot fall off without tampering or conscious effort to open by a crew member or passenger. We also wish to enlighten the author that, when an aircraft is airborne, it is fully pressurized and there was no way the seat or door could have been ‘shaking’ as insinuated.”
While Dana Air officials make a good argument, the airline’s credibility is called into question by a stubborn insistence on diminishing the seriousness of an incident in which the door of an aircraft fell onto the tarmac – no matter who or what was to blame.
“The flight was only delayed for 8 minutes as we needed to demonstrate to the regulators that the safety and comfort of our guests is at the centre of our operations,” the Dana Air statement concluded. “We wish to apologize to our guests for any inconvenience such report may have caused and for the slight delay on the return service to Lagos.”