EXCLUSIVE: NCAA Risks Lives, Issues Operating Certificate To Airline Without Airworthy Aircraft
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority which was established to oversee the safety of the aviation industry has contravened its own laws with the issuance of an Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) to NG Eagle Airline without the required airworthiness certifications for its aircraft.
The aviation industry was shocked when the news broke in early April that the NCAA has approved NG Eagle to fly as a carrier.
AOC is the air operator’s certificate approval granted to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes.
The NG Eagle was part of the plan of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria to establish a new airline with Arik Air assets under its receivership since February 2017.
Arik fought back in 2021 by obtaining a judgment of a High Court in Lagos against AMCON, stating that the planned transfer of its assets was not in its best interest.
AMCON had planned to transfer the assets to NG Eagle and Bravo Limited but later sold its stake in the airline which continued with the AOC process.
But THE WHISTLER obtained a document showing the NCAA granted NG Eagle the AOC with an expired Air Worthiness Certificate and wet-lease aircraft, which is in contravention of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig.CARs).
The NCAA requires an aircraft to be airworthy before the AOC can be issued or renewed.
Nig. CARs 126.96.36.199 (b) (2) provides, “The Authority may deny application for an AOC if the Authority finds that- The applicant does not have (i) for scheduled operation, at least three (3) Nigerian registered airworthy aircraft capable of servicing it’s approved schedule for an initial AOC issuance.
“(ii) for scheduled operation, at least two (2) airworthy aircraft capable of servicing it’s approved schedule if it is already in operation. (iii) For non-scheduled operation, at least one (1) Nigerian registered aircraft.”
Airworthiness of Three Aircraft Of NG Eagles Expired Since 2022
THE WHISTLER found from an industry source familiar with the matter that three aircrafts transferred to NG Eagle from Arik Air which were formerly airworthy had their certificates of airworthiness expire in 2022 and no renewal has been made to certify them as airworthy.
The first aircraft belonging to NG Eagle is a Boeing B737-7BD with a registration mark, 5N-BXW. Its serial number is 33944 and its date of manufacture is 2008.
The certificate of airworthiness was last issued on March 24, 2021, with serial number 1699 and expired on March 23, 2022.
The second aircraft, a Boeing B737-86N has its registration mark, 5N-BXV and aircraft serial number 35638.
The aircraft which was manufactured in 2008 was issued an airworthiness certificate on September 8, 2021, and expired on September 7, 2022. The certificate serial number is 1719.
The third aircraft it inherited from Arik is the Boeing B737-7GL manufactured in 2007 with registration mark, 5N-BXX and aircraft serial number, 34761.
NCAA issued the aircraft aviation safety certificate on March 12, 2021, which expired on September 11, 2022.
AOC Allegedly Obtained Using Wet-Leased Aircraft
Sources who confided in THE WHISTLER revealed that the AOC was obtained using wet-leased aircraft.
A wet-lease aircraft is not a Nigerian-registered aircraft but foreign registered aircraft. It is a leasing arrangement where an airline (the lessor) provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance (ACMI) to another airline.
The source said, “It means that when NG Eagle leased the aircraft, the aircraft did not come alone. The pilots of the foreign airline, the cabin crew of the foreign airline, the maintenance organization or engineers of the foreign airline and the insurance of the aircraft also issued by a foreign body came along with the aircraft.
“No airline in Nigeria is issued AOC by NCAA when the only aircraft they have with valid airworthiness certificate is wet-leased.
Rules On Renewal of Air Worthiness Certificate
Another source in the industry said, “There is no specific interval for the renewal of the Air Worthiness Certificate. However, the maximum time allowed is 18 months. The three aircraft are yet to be certified as airworthy since their certificates expired. Granting an AOC to NG Eagles is contrary to the Regulation of the NCAA that requires an aircraft to be airworthy before the Air Operator Certificate can be renewed. Without a Certificate of Airworthiness, and aircraft should not be allowed to fly.
“In 2021, the NCAA certified the three aircraft but when it was time to issue the AOC, ARIK Air and AMCON had serious issues that led the airplanes to be grounded. While on the ground, their Airworthiness certificates expired. Some of the engines on the aircraft have been removed. So, the airplanes cannot fly.
“Usually, when the NCAA inspects aircraft and issues airworthiness certificate or renews a certificate, there is usually a record containing all the documents of step-by-step evaluation by NCAA inspectors. But such a record is absent.”
Attempts to get a response from the NCAA proved abortive as calls, texts and WhatsApp messages sent to Samuel Adurogboye, the Public Relations Director, NCAA were not replied as at the time of filing the report.