By Lawani Mikairu
First Nation Airways Certificate of Airworthiness, AOC, has been down graded to non-schedule service, which is charter service, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ,NCAA, as the airline has been operating only one aircraft in the last one year. According to the regulatory authority, the airline can only return to scheduled service after meeting the requirement of at least two aircraft.
This development was disclosed yesterday by Capt. Muhtar Usman, the Director-General, NCAA, at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport ,MMA, Lagos. Usman explained that the airline had downscale its operations from schedule operator to non-schedule, saying “that the status would remain so until it improved its aircraft fleet to at least two and would have to meet the requirements for schedule services”.
The NCAA DG said : “Yes, they use one aircraft and they were on schedule services, but the present status now is that the certificate of the airworthiness of the status has been changed to non-schedule service, which is charter service. So, they are no longer into schedule service until they are able to meet the requirement for scheduled service.”
Speaking also on the l N33.5 million sanctions imposed on the airline some few months ago for safety negligence, Usman said the authority would work with the airline to ensure the penalty was paid. He added that the essence of sanctioning any operator or organisation was not punitive, but to serve as a corrective measure to prevent recurrence.
“I will still reconfirm to you that whatever sanction we impose on any operator it’s in-line with Civil Regulation and it’s not punitive, but corrective. FirstNation was sanctioned, they appealed, the appeal, which was upheld. So, we are still working with them to pay the sanction. We don’t want to cripple any operations. If it is safety related, we will not waste time, but the payment is being worked out now,” Usman said.
On the visit of the America Federal Aviation Authority team to Nigeria to access the country civil aviation sector, the DG said the country would once again scale the hurdle, stressing that the regulatory agency was prepared to retain the Category One Status it attained in 2010. He recalled that Nigeria attained the new status in 2010 and retained it in 2014 after a comprehensive audit of the industry.
He explained that the “ FAA team would focus its audit on Personnel Licensing, International Operations and Airworthiness”, and he assured that the agency was fully prepared for the visit.
He said: “NCAA has done a lot in the areas that we are expected to cover and not only for this audit, in our statutory responsibilities; safety, aviation security and also regulations. We have the new civil aviation bill, which is on its way to the National Assembly. The bill is to enhance the current Act of 2006 and it’s supposed to be in line with the new annexes of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention. We also amended our regulation, which is 2015 Civil Aviation Regulation.
“Re-organisation has also been going on to make sure the organisation continues to discharge its responsibilities as it should be, which is to be in line with ICAO. We want to continue to attract and retain qualified personnel in the industry in sufficient numbers to make sure we carry out the safety as required by ICAO.
“In the area of enforcement and compliance, we have done a lot. We make sure that our regulations, which are mainly safety, are enforced. Our sanctions are not supposed to be punitive, but corrective. We have been sanctioning where we need to sanction in order to correct and instil safety in the system and even security. We thank God in the last two years we never had any major accident. There is zero tolerance in accident at NCAA,” he revealed.
The FAA team is led by Mr. Louis Avrez, International Technical Support, William Amoz, Aviation Safety Inspector, Benjamin Garrido, Frontline Manager, Airworthiness and L.P. Vanstory Ill, International Affairs.