Aviation: ‘Hijacking regulatory functions ’ll spell doom for sector’

Aviation experts have expressed shock over pronouncement by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation that the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of NG Eagle, a new airline that is about to be established by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) should not be issued over a petition written by some labour unions over severance pay of some workers in Arik.

There had been insinuations that Arik Air, which is in receivership by AMCOM, is going to transmute into the new NG Eagle; a situation that made the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP) to jointly write a petition to the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, to halt the strenuous AOC process that had reached an advanced stage of the award by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

AMCON, according to the petitioners, had acquired Arik Air properties and decided to change its name to Nigeria Eagle Airline to evade payment of the monumental debts owed to all the aviation agencies by Arik AIr. AMCON had for the past four years taken over Arik Air on receivership due to its insolvency.

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The petitioners further alleged that AMCON had changed the livery on Arik Air aircraft to Nigeria Eagle Airline, which showed that it has fully acquired Arik Air assets but wanted to abdicate it’s liabilities through name change.

A former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, who spoke to Aviation Metric expressed sadness that pronouncement like the one coming from politicians could cast aspersions on the credibility of the aviation regulatory body, NCAA, if the NCAA goes on to be guided by the utterances on AOC certification  which he described as a technical area that the House of Representatives does not know how it works.

Sanusi further noted that the country could fritter away the gains of past few years by the NCAA and by extension those made by the incumbent Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, as the sector could witness interference of the past from politicians to influence technical decisions of the NCAA.

His words: “I find it painful and saddening what I heard concerning the House of Representatives. Outsiders are seeing us and we should not give them the impression that the NCAA is dictated to on how it should issue AOC to. We  should equally be mindful of the dangers of allowing NCAA to be dictated to.

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“The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu is highly experienced. He can’t be pushed around. We should have gone past some of these pronouncements.

It is very unfortunate,” he added. A top official in NCAA, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent that the issuance of AOC followed a tedious process; one that cannot be circumvented by anyone no matter how influential the person is.

 

 

He, however, stated that Capt. Nuhu was not the type of person that anyone can dictate to because of the enormous responsibility the job of regulating the aviation sector entail and won’t be given to interference by anyone.

The NCAA, under the present dispensation, has enjoyed unfettered autonomy in its regulatory functions in all its ramifications. It had withstood high pressure from one of the biggest operators, Azman for grounding the carrier over the safety-related issues.

It had also called the bluff of a wealthy private operator who allegedly wanted AOC without meeting the requirements for the award of the operating certificate. Capt Nuhu in affirming the autonomy of the agency cited that the regulatory authority had enjoyed enough freedom as statutorily expected from it in its oversight duties.

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The NCAA helmsman further said that “as regards the issue of NCAA autonomy, since I resumed as DG, as far as the implementation and enforcement of regulatory functions, the authority has been independent without any interference either from the government or political forces.

“NCAA has grounded several operating aircraft of the powerful and rich until they complied with regulatory requirements.”

 

NCAA

In this commentary, there are pieces of evidence of strict and firm sanctions meted especially to airlines as regards the airworthiness of some equipment.

The DG also revealed that government-owned aircraft found short of expectation he said was dealt with in accordance to the part of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs), it infringed

Wole Shadare