A LAGOS-BOUND South Africa Airways flight Sunday made an emergency return to OR Thambo Airport in Johannesburg after a spark was detected in the aircraft galley.
The galley is the kitchen aboard a vessel, usually laid out in an efficient, typical style with longitudinal units and overhead cabinets.
Media consultant to the airline, Tope Awe, confirmed that the aircraft, A340-600, “made an air return after a spark from a kettle in the galley,” adding that as a safety-conscious airline, the crew had to make an air return to base.
International best practice stipulates that a captain and his crew make an air return to base or the nearest airport in the event of technical problem with an aircraft in flight.
One of the passengers, Chuks Nwanne, who called The Guardian from Johannesburg, South Africa, narrated that the airplane took off at 2 p.m. Nigerian time. According to him, “less than an hour after take-off, the pilot announced that they had detected fire, and that he was going to jettison fuel to prevent any danger.
“He called the control tower and the airport to prepare the aircraft for emergency landing in OR Thambo after hovering for so long.”
Nwanne disclosed that the airport quickly responded as fire-fighting vehicles and other response equipment were immediately stationed in case of any eventuality, stressing that they were really ready for the aircraft.
The airplane, he said, eventually landed at the airport at about 3.30 p.m., just as he noted that about 300 passengers onboard the plane panicked.
“People jumped up in prayer, thanked God as the plane made a return to the airport,” he added. “After that, a team of engineers came to inspect the aircraft to rectify the problem before the airplane was certified to fly again.”
The aircraft was, however, rescheduled for 6 p.m. yesterday and was expected in Lagos at about 11.30 p.m. Sunday. Among dignitaries onboard were TuFace Idibia with his band, and Mrs. Josephine Anenih.