A Diamond DA 42 MPP surveillance aircraft operated by Nigeria’s Presidential Ministerial Committee on Maritime Security (PICOMMS) has made a belly landing at Benin Airport, Edo State.
On Thursday the head of Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau, Tunji Oketunbi, said that no-one was injured in the incident. “A Diamond DA 42 MPP aircraft marked with 5N-BKS, belonging to PICOMMS today around 11 am was involved in a serious incident of belly-landing at Benin Airport. No casualty was recorded.”
The aircraft is owned by Nigeria’s Federal Government. According to Nigeria’s This Day newspaper, the aircraft was being used for training, with the pilot conducting touch and go landings. However, when the pilot wanted to land, the nosewheel malfunctioned and the aircraft slid along the runway.
The airport was closed for half an hour whilst the aircraft was moved.
PICOMSS has installed surveillance radars along Nigeria’s coast and is said to have unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its inventory, in addition to several aircraft. The agency was set up to protect Nigeria’s maritime domain and oil and gas installations. It also monitors vessels at sea in order to combat illegal bunkering, sea robberies and piracy.
The DA 42 MPP (Multi Purpose Platform) is a version of the Diamond DA42 Twinstar, but with provision for payloads under the nose, belly or wing. PICOMSS installed a ball sensor turret under the nose of its aircraft. Other changes include a bubbled canopy for increased visibility and helmet wear and low-noise exhausts. The DA 42 MPP has a maximum endurance of 12 hours
A growing number of nations in West Africa are operating the DA 42. The Niger Air Force has two DA 42MPP aircraft, while Ghana’s Air Force recently took delivery of two DA 42MPPs, which were ordered in August last year (although it is believed that a third DA 42 has been acquired for training). Ghana may eventually acquire up to six DA 42s.