NCAA fines FirstNation, pilot N33.5m over alleged violation of safety rules

FirstNation Airways

• Airlines propose flights to Lagos over Abuja airport closure

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday slammed a fine of N33.5 million on FirstNation Airways over alleged violation of safety regulations. The apex regulatory body of air travel business in Nigeria, in a letter, ordered the airline to pay N32 million, while one of its pilots is to pay N1.5 million for flying a FirstNation commercial aircraft with expired and invalid medical certificate, a violation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation regulations.

The implication of an expired or unguaranteed medical certificate is that the pilot’s physical and mental health have not been certified by a doctor recognised by the aviation authority according to international rules and, therefore, a risk to the airline and travelling public.

FirstNation has, however, denied allegation of its pilot failing to renewed medical certificate or carrying an invalid one.Chief Operating Officer of the airlines, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu, said the medical certificate in question was actually withheld by the NCAA while alleging that the same had expired.

General Manager, Public Relations of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the airline had, therefore, contravened the regulations by allowing a flight crew member to operate 16 scheduled flights on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th November, 2016.

Adurogboye noted that these operations were carried out while the medical certificate had expired since on November 1, 2016, thereby rendering his Pilot License subsequently invalid from that date.

He added: “In light of these, the Airline is hereby sanctioned in accordance with IS 1.3.3 (14) while the pilot suffered similar fate in line with IS 1.3.3(11) (15) (e), in lieu of suspension under IS 1.3.3(11)(15)(a) of the Nig. CARs 2015.

“On this strength, the Airline is required to pay N32 million only while the Pilot will pay N1.5 million only, being moderate civil penalty for the violation. The fine must however be paid within seven (7) days of receipt of the letter from the Authority,” he said.

The NCAA advised all airline operators to acquaint themselves properly with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) to guide their operations as violation(s) is viewed seriously.

Imediegwu said the medical certificate renewal ideally takes 24 hours, but in this case, was delayed by NCAA for about six days.He said it was wrong of the authority to delay the certificate, create a false impression about safety rules violation and release the certificate two hours after.

The director said so far as the airline was concerned, the onus is upon NCAA to see the matter through and correct the impression they had created about the airline.

Meanwhile, International airlines may drop and pick passengers at the Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos, during the six weeks closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

A source who crave anonymity told The Guardian that most of the international airlines have refused to operate at the Kaduna Airport as suggested by the Federal Government.

She said most of them said they would rather drop and pick their passengers from Lagos airport, while passengers take connecting flight to Kaduna-Abuja The Federal Government had said there was no going back on plans to divert flight operations to Kaduna Airport for a period of six weeks starting from March 8-April 18 so as to allow for the repair of its runway.

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