A breach in security at Lagos Airport has resulted in thieves breaking into the cockpit of an Arik Air (W3, Lagos) aircraft, B737-700 EI-ULN (msn 32426), leased from Mongolia’s Eznis Airways (MG, Ulaanbaatar), and stealing its flight management system (FMS) computer, local media reported.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Eznis Airways operates a fleet of two B737-700s, both of which currently have the Nigerian carrier as an ACMI customer. The owner and manager of EI-ULN, a 17.89-year-old Boeing twinjet, is Carlyle Aviation Partners.

Sources at the airport and at Arik Air said that the incident happened overnight between January 19 and 20 at Terminal Two. The thieves also reportedly tampered with the pitot tube cover and other sensitive parts of the aircraft.

The incident resulted in a number of the carrier’s flights being cancelled. However, according to Flightradar24 and RadarBox ADS-B data, the aircraft has since returned to service on routes between Lagos and Jos, Port Harcourt Omagwa, and Owerri.

An aviation expert told the news agency SaharaReporters that the break-in could only have been performed by individuals with specialist aircraft technical skills.

A source at Arik Air told The Daily Sun newspaper: “The aircraft was parked on the tarmac at MM2 and someone got access to the electronic base where we have all the systems. There is a door underneath the aircraft which they opened and got access to remove the FMC. It is expected that the CCTV should be on and capture whoever did it, but we haven’t heard anything to that effect.”

The source added: “To repair [such a computer] costs about USD15,000 and a brand new one costs about USD300,000. Every item in an aircraft has serial numbers and can be tracked anywhere in the world, so I don’t know how the thief intends to sell it unless the person has a vendor. That’s why we believe it is internal sabotage.”

Eznis Airways did not immediately respond to ch-aviation’s request for comment.

Lagos has experienced a series of security issues lately. According to Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, parked cars have been broken into and vandalised, and last month Arik Air filed an occurrence report with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) after a group of men tried to open the cargo compartment of one of its four B737-800s while it was taxiing to the terminal. It was the second such attempt the airline had seen in two weeks, but no one has been arrested.

John Ojikutu, a former head of security at the airport, now retired, told the newspaper that some houses in a neighbouring suburb are so close to the perimeter fences that their occupants “are either using the fences as part of their building or as fences for their houses. That is why incursions into the airport as aircraft are taxiing are rampant.”