General News of Monday, 1 October 2018
Reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the delegation that travelled with him to the United States escaped what could have been a fatal accident with the Presidential jet in Washington, Saturday, have been confirmed by Information Minister-designate, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah.
Media reports suggested that the aircraft had to fly around a number of times to burn fuel before being assisted to land.
Recounting how the incident occurred, Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the President was returning to Ghana from the UN General Assembly in New York when one of the engines went off.
“After about 20 minutes into the flight from Washington to Accra, the aircraft developed a challenge with one of its engines. And the pilot informed the passengers including the President accordingly. A decision was made to land the aircraft in Washington Dallas airport, but they first required about one hour of flight to dispose of some of the fuel that was on board,” he said at a press conference in Accra, Sunday.
“Subsequently, the flight landed safely at Dallas Airport in Washington and the President and his delegation got onto a commercial flight, a South African Airways flight and arrived in Accra at 8:00 am this [Sunday] morning. The trip was successful all in all,” Oppong-Nkrumah added.
Akufo-Addo has no plan to buy a new presidential jet
The Falcon 900 which cost $37 million has had to make two emergency landings in the last eight years. In December 2010, the jet made an emergency landing on a Libyan airstrip en route to Burkina Faso.
It was carrying then-Vice President John Mahama, football legend Abedi Pele and businessman Alhaji Asuma Banda when a fault was detected in the engine.
In March 2015, friction between the wheels and the runway caused fire on the jet while it was attempting to take off to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
In spite of this history of the jet, Oppong-Nkrumah at the press conference said the president is not considering buying a new one.
“I can tell you that the presidential jet returned very recently from its maintenance and servicing schedule so it’s a being maintained and serviced in accordance with its schedule. I haven’t spoken to the president as to whether or not he intends to buy a new jet, but I can tell you that the man I know who is still using his own private vehicle even for official travels, does not have this matter on his cart. This is not a matter on his itinerary to buy a new jet,” he said.
The Falcon 900 was purchased in July 2010 after the Mills administration said the Fokker 28 presidential jet, otherwise known as the “Flying Coffin” was too old to be useful to government.
The Mills government was slammed by the opposition, NPP, for making a u-turn. While in opposition, the NDC had resisted moves by the then-NPP government to purchase the jet for President John Kufuor, insisting the economy was not in good shape for the comfort of a presidential jet.