July 9, 2024

AOCs difficulties not reason illegal charters’re increasing, NCAA clarifies

NCAA refutes claim that passengers without proof of vaccination will be denied boarding

By Dickson Omobola

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has debunked reports that illegal charters are on the rise due to the difficulties in obtaining an Air Operators Certificate, AOC.

The aviation regulatory agency said if the peddler of the report was in tune with recent developments, he would be aware that the NCAA had simplified the process of obtaining and renewing AOCs.

Recently, an aircraft pilot, Capt Dan Omale, urged the NCAA to acquire an AOC simple, saying one of the guidelines for start-up companies to fly an empty plane for 20 to 50 non-revenue hours was expensive and difficult to scale through.

Acting Director General, Civil Aviation, Captain Chris Najomo, in a statement, however, noted that attributing the increase in illegal operators to those reasons was unjustifiable.

In part, the statement reads: “The accusation that the prevalence of illegal charters is due to diluted, pervasive air operating licenses in the various, confusing Civil Aviation Acts is rather an unflyable alibi for the continuous perpetration of the said illegal operations. Who amongst these operators does not know the difference between, or the intent of, private operation and commercial operation even from the permit being referred to in this write up, PNCF?

“Further to this, the allegation that ‘no aircraft operator nor the NCAA inspector that can confirm which Act is in vogue’ is so fluid and unfounded. To start with, laws are never in vogue but subsisting (enforceable). Except for this writer, all Operators who know what they are doing in the industry and indeed, all NCAA Inspectors, use the Civil Aviation Act 2022, currently in force and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs 2023). For the avoidance of doubt, Section 114 of the Civil Aviation Act 2022 repeals the Civil Aviation Act 2006.

“The Civil Aviation Act 2006 referred to by the writer as “every operator’s Bible” and that “every page was memorable and clearly understood”, ironically, has all its relevant provisions fully incorporated into the Civil Aviation Act 2022, with additional provisions that address current trends in the dynamic sector which aviation is. There is therefore only one Civil Aviation Act currently in force and one set of regulations called the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs) 2023. Both documents are known to the entire aviation industry and are being used by all legitimate players in the sector.

“Before publishing the Nig. CARs, it was subjected to stakeholder engagement as required by NCAA’s Rule-Making Process Policy and Procedures Manual. Robust discussions were held and inputs were made to the draft. Only after this healthy engagement, was the Nig. CARs completed, approved and subsequently published. This writer did not participate in these processes. For the avoidance of doubt, both documents are gazetted, available in the public domain and published on the NCAA website –

“This apparent lack of participation in Nigeria’s aviation space may be the rationale behind the writer’s misinformed statement that “there are four aircraft operating licenses with limited or undefined scopes: the Air Operating Permit, AOP, Air Transport License, ATL, Permit for Non- Commercial Flight, PNCF, and the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).” This mix-up could only be due to either genuine ignorance or deliberate mischief. There is economic oversight which entails the issuance of permits, licences and authorizations. Conversely, there is safety oversight which entails the issuance of safety certificates. The two, yet separate and distinct, are complimentary.

“As emphasised earlier, the primary aviation law in Nigeria is the Civil Aviation Act 2022. Section 95 of this Act provides for an effective legal and institutional framework for Air Operator Economic Regulation. Sec 95 (1)(a) clearly states that no aircraft shall be used by any person in Nigeria for flying, while carrying passengers or cargo for reward, on such journeys or classes of journeys (whether beginning and ending at the same point or at different points) or for such flying undertaking for the purpose of any trade or business, except under the authority of and in accordance with a licence, permit, or other authorization issued to him by the Authority. This provision is a word-for-word copy from the previous Civil Aviation Act 2006 the writer claimed he knew every page of. So, one wonders when the amnesia sets in.

“Part 18 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations goes ahead to name those economic licences and permits as the Airline Operating Permit (AOP) for non-scheduled commercial air transport and the Air Transport Licence (ATL) for scheduled commercial air transport. The intent is to ensure would-be airlines are legally registered and financially sound to undertake the serious business of running an airline.

“It is after this economic viability is ascertained, that the NCAA subjects the would-be airline to the safety certification process culminating in the issuance of an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). Part 9 of the Nig. CARs give the provisions for the AOC. A core mandate of the NCAA is to regulate in such a way that airline operators guarantee the safety of their air travellers. The NCAA would therefore, not issue such an important certificate as an AOC to any organization that has not undergone the requisite financial health audit. The writer should realize that economics directly affects safety.”