By Sade Williams
Firstnation Airways, one of the domestic airlines in the country that was recently fined N33.5 million for violation of safety regulations, has changed its Certificate of Air worthiness from scheduled airline to non-scheduled operator.
Capt. Muhtar Usman, the Director-General, NCAA, disclosed this to journalists yesterday at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
He explained that the airline had downscaled its operations from schedule operator to non-scheduled, saying that the status would remain so until it increases its fleet to at least two and would have to meet the requirements for schedule services.
On the sanction imposed on the airline Usman said, “I will still reconfirm to you that whatever sanction we impose on any operator it’s in line with civil regulation and it’s not punitive, but corrective.
“First nation was sanctioned, they appealed, the appeal was upheld. So, we are still working with them to pay the sanction. We don’t want to cripple any operations. If it is safety related, we will not waste time, but the payment is being worked out now.”
On the use of one aircraft by the airline, Usman added, “Yes, they use one aircraft and they were on scheduled services, but the present status now is that the certificate of airworthiness of the status has been changed to non-scheduled service, which is charter service. So, they are no longer into scheduled service until they are able to meet the requirement for scheduled service.”
It would be recalled that the NCAA had fined the airline and one of its pilots N32 million and N1.5 million respectively for violation of safety regulations in the industry in November 2016.
NCAA had accused the pilot of being in possession of an expired certificate, which it insisted violated safety rules.
The regulatory authority had also accused the pilot-in-command (PIC) of one of the two of the aircraft in the fleet of the company, an Airbus A319 aircraft, of flying without a current medical certificate, which is a serious offense in the global civil aviation industry.
Firstnation had filed an appeal following a letter of sanction written to the airline on January 23, 2017, which prompted the establishment of the appeal committee.
Usman however posited that NCAA has done a lot to see that sanctions are enforced when there are breaches in line with the civil aviation regulations.