The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said the five-phase Air Operators Certificate (AOC) process for entry and renewal is an international regulatory requirement recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and not peculiar to Nigeria alone.
The AOC process, the authority explained, is captured in Annex 6 Parts I and III as well as ICAO Document 8335.
The director-general of NCAA, Musa Nuhu, therefore, stressed that CAA would not compromise in the enforcement of safety standards and regulatory requirements in conformity with all regulatory requirements and ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in the initial issuance and renewal of AOC irrespective of the personality or organisation involved.
There have been concerns among some investors over what they described as stringent measures in the renewal of AOCs. Some have also argued agreed that AOCs could be lifetime unless revoked due to the operators’ negligence. This has triggered a debate within the aviation industry.
But the NCAA has said the AOC process as domesticated is captured in Nig. CARS 2015 Part 9 on AOC certification and that it (CAA) will continue to operate within its mandate to the safety, security and efficiency of the industry as enshrined in the 2006 Civil Aviation Act.
Nuhu, who also responded to an interview granted by the chief operating officer of Tropical Artic Logistics (TAL), Femi Adeniji, said TAL fell short of some requirements in its AOC renewal, including not having three out of four key nominated post holders.
The DG said the missing key personnel include the director of maintenance, director of flight operations and chief pilot.
He also said the operator was yet to comply with COVID-19 industry restart programme like all other industry players did before receiving approval to resume operations. “TAL’s AOC will be renewed when these requirements have been satisfactorily met’, Nuhu said.
Also speaking on some allegations of the TAL boss, the NCAA DG further stated that manufacturers’ recommendations as alluded to were just ‘recommendations’ which can neither override nor replace regulations based on ICAO SARPS and Annexes.
“No manufacturer has the authority to issue an extension approval without the knowledge and approval of civil aviation authorities which are ultimately responsible for the safety of flight operations. Extensions are the prerogative of CAAs period,” he said.
“During a certificate of airworthiness inspection of the operator’s AW139 Helicopter with registration 5N-BVQ in June 2020, it was discovered that the machine was being operated with a component (Tank Foam) that was overdue for replacement.
“A review of the records showed that the OEM, Leonardo Helicopters had supplied TAL with all replacement Kits and advised the operator to contact NCAA for extension. NCAA was neither contacted for an extension nor was the Tank Foam replaced.
“An enforcement action was taken by the issuance of a Letter of Investigation (LOI) and the requirement of compliance with OEM’s recommendations. The maintenance repairs and replacement of the tank foam was performed by Aero Contractors and some serious defects were identified and fixed,” the NCAA DG disclosed.
On the allegations of corruption, Nuhu asked the TAL boss to file any evidence he has with relevant authorities.
“If Adeniji has any evidence of either corruption or any corrupt practices he should file a complaint with relevant authorities for investigations and follow-up actions rather than casting questionable doubts in the public fora on the credibility of the authority.
However, Nuhu accepted that the NCAA was not a perfect entity and had its own peculiar challenges and difficulties like all organizations, stating that there is room for improvement.