Latest information on flight live tracker ‘flightrader24.com’ currently shows the Nigeria Air aircraft is back to Ethiopia where it was brought in from.
As of Saturday evening, the flight tracker showed the aircraft was enroute Addis Ababa, approaching from Central African republic.
Later on Saturday evening, the flight tracker read, “The flight with callsign ETH8950 is currently not tracked by Flightradar24. It’s either out of coverage or has already landed.”
However on Sunday morning, the flight tracker showed the plane has landed at Ethiopia.
BusinessDay’s had reported Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation contacted Ethiopian airlines to provide an aircraft that would be presented to Nigerians as an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air.
Ethiopian airline had obliged by repainting and rebranding one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Investigations revealed that the Boeing 737-800 has registration Number ET-APL, Mode S Q4005C and serial number: 40965/4075.
Further investigations pointed out that the national carrier is about 11 years and and first flight with the aircraft was done on June 22, 2012 as Ethiopian Airlines aircraft.
The aircraft became Malawi Airlines on 16th February 2014 and released to Ethiopian Airlines on August 12, 2015.
BusinessDay’s checks show that the aircraft changed colours but ownership remains that of Ethiopian Airlines.
David Hundeyin, an independent journalist on Saturday drew people’s attention to the flight tracker.
“Behold your freshly commissioned “Nigeria Air” Boeing 737 heading back to Addis Ababa right now as we speak, where the hurried paint job will be removed and it will go back into @flyethiopian regular service,” Hundeyin had said.
In a statement by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Sunday issued by Obiora Okonkwo, spokesman, AON, it stated that the aircraft that landed at Abuja on Friday, May 26, 2023 was greeted with a water salute, or shower. Water salute, which is usually used to mark the first flight of an aircraft to an airport.
However, the aircraft that was used for the static display in Abuja on Friday was not the first flight of Nigeria Air into Abuja, he said.
Okonkwo stated that this is because Nigeria Air has not commenced flight operations as required by law, adding that the proposed carrier has not been issued with an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is the legal authority for the issuance of such certificate and as such, cannot conduct flight operations.
“Further to that, the aircraft is an Ethiopian Airline property that, even during the static display in Abuja, operated with an Ethiopian registration number as ET-APL,” Okonkwo said.
“A further check at Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will show that the flight entered Nigeria as an ET flight,” he stated.
He explained that the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) is also a safety certificate by which the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) certifies that the holder has demonstrated that it is fit to conduct safe flight operations.
To achieve this, a prospective airline is put through a rigorous five-phase certification process before it is granted, he said.
According to him, implication of granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without it successfully going through the process is considered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as serious infraction, which is also punishable.
He said this is capable of causing Nigeria to be blacklisted by aviation safety agencies like the US FAA and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).
Further implications, he said, include that the airlines of those countries will not come into Nigeria, and Nigerian airlines will not be allowed to operate into those countries.
“It also means that Nigeria will definitely fail the upcoming ICAO audit and, by way of further penalty, lose its FAA CAT-1 Certification. Nigerian airlines will also not be able to lease aircraft to boost their operations because no lessor will trust the safety certification process of the NCAA.
“As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process.
“Besides, aviation is an essential sector which is critical to economic development of Nigeria or any country. If tampered with, it will have negative expanded multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and life of Nigeria.
“AON, as strong stakeholders, have a national and patriotic duty to guard against such happening. Otherwise, our investments in the aviation sector of Nigeria, running into billions of dollars, would have been jeopardised.
“Hence, we in the AON continue to salute the courage of the NCAA team led by Musa Nuhu, for insisting that the right things must be done in order to protect the safety and integrity of the Nigerian aviation industry, which they have nurtured to enviable world standard,” AON stated.