Flights into Entebbe International Airport (EIA) were momentarily put on halt this morning after Ethiopian Airlines Boeing -737- 800 flight number ET388 on a regular service from Addis Ababa to Entebbe, Uganda skidded off the runway by a few meters.
The incident that happened in the wee hours of 3 January 2019 morning saw none of the 138 passengers and crew injured.
“Passengers and crew were safely deplaned and were taken to the terminal and cleared normally through the regular clearance process. There is no damage to the aircraft and it is being towed to the ramp,” said a statement that was issued by Ethiopian Airlines immediately after the incident.
“We apologize to our valued customers, who were on-board the flight for the inconvenience. An alternative flight is being arranged to complete the return flight and rebook the passengers, who were booked to travel from Entebbe to Addis Ababa,” the statement added.
Uganda Civil Aviation Authority Spokesperson Vianney Luggya confirmed the incident to East African Business Week.
“Flights into Entebbe are on hold. We had an incident this morning. Ethiopian Airlines B-737-800 overshot the runway. The plane is not damaged and all passengers disembarked and are safe.
“We are now towing the Aircraft off the runway and normal flights out of Entebbe International Airport have resumed,” said Luggya.
The Entebbe incident comes at a time when the Netherlands based Aviation Safety Network has just released its 2018 Aviation report indicating that the number of people killed in plane crashes jumped in 2018 compared with the previous year, with more than 500 deaths recorded.
However, the report added that 2018 was still one of the safest years for commercial aviation on record.
The report said that a total of 15 fatal airliner accidents were recorded in 2018, leading to 556 deaths, compared with 10 accidents and 44 lives lost in 2017, the safest year in aviation history.
Of those accidents, 12 involved passenger flights and three were cargo flights. Three of the 15 planes were operated by airlines on the European Union “blacklist.”
The figures for 2018 represent a rate of one fatal accident for every 3 million flights, said the report.
Aviation Safety Network highlighted the Lion Air crash off Indonesia in October — in which 189 people lost their lives — as the deadliest single incident for the year. The aircraft involved was a brand new Boeing 737 MAX plane.
A preliminary report by Indonesian investigators found that the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 were engaged in a futile tug-of-war with the plane’s automatic systems in the minutes before it plunged into the ocean.
Poor Runway lighting
Aviation experts and regular travellers have weighed in on what could have led to the incident. John Katumba a regular traveller says that Entebbe Airport runway is poorly lit, bumpy and has most of the lit bulbs not working. He believes that the poor lighting could have deceived the pilot to start landing in the middle of the runway, hence the skidding off.
BY PAUL TENTENA