By Sade Williams
First Nation Airways and one of its Pilots have been fined by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over violation of safety regulations.
In a Letter of Sanction conveying the penalties, the Airline was ordered to pay a sum of N32,000,000 only while the Pilot – in – Command (PIC) of the Aircraft, will pay N1,500,000 only.
According to the Letter, “during a Ramp Inspection on your Airbus A319 Aircraft with registration mark 5N-FNE at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), it was discovered that the PIC was not in personal possession of a current medical certificate neither was it readily accessible.”
Consequent upon this, a Letter Of Investigation [LOI] was sent to the Airline and the Pilot.
Sam Adurogboye, NCAA spokesman explained in a statement that in their response, the Pilot admitted violating Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) while the Airline demonstrated lack of thorough knowledge of the requirements of the Regulations.
He noted that ‘therefore, the Airline has contravened the Regulations by allowing a flight crew member to be rostered to operate a total of 16 nos (sixteen) scheduled flights on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th November, 2016.
These operations, he said were carried out while his medical certificate had expired since on the 1st November, 2016, thereby rendering his Pilot License subsequently invalid from that date.
“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 a total sum of N32,000, 000 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 days of receipt of the letter from the Authority”, he said.
According to him, ‘the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) therefore wishes to advise all Airline Operators to acquaint themselves properly with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) to guide their operations as violation[s] is viewed seriously.
But in a swift reaction, FirstNation Airways management explained that it never admitted any wrong doing on the matter, describing NCAA action as ‘arbitrary and at variance with the levels set out in the relevant section of Nig, CARs’.
Rasheed Yusuf, who signed a statement on behalf of FirstNation said: It is our position that on the day that the said flight was ramp inspected, the Captain had a valid medical license. We have also drawn NCAA’s attention to the need to address the bureaucracy associated with the general license and medical renewals process with the Authority i. We will cooperate with NCAA in working to improve the current challenges with respect to License renewal.
“The Airline admit no wrong doing and despite this position consider the level of financial fine arbitrary and at variance with the levels set out in the relevant section of Nig,.CARs The essence of Nig. CARs is corrective rather than cause Airline injury and we will be working the appeal and review of the sanction with NCAA.
“We are surprised that the NCAA press release did not contain the fact that we immediately filed an appeal against the sanctions in accordance with the requirements of Nig. CARs 1.10 . The fact that NCAA elected to go Public on a Sunday, without any need to rush to media and by deliberately withholding the fact that we have appealed the sanctions in accordance with the relevant regulation is in bad faith and showed the Authority’s tendency of regulation by media in a very sensitive industry.
“Firstnation is committed to best industry practice and respect for regulation and take the safety seriously. Our high safety standard is attested by the fact that the Airline is IATA-IOSA certified, The first Airlines to achieve IOSA certification among the ten Africa airlines selected by IATA- IATF in 2014”, he said.