By Sade Williams
A five- man Appeal panel has upheld and reaffirmed the civil sanctions imposed on First Nation Airways and one of its Pilots by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This was contained in the Report submitted by the Panel to the Regulatory Authority at the conclusion of the sitting.
First Nation Airways had earlier filed an appeal following a Letter of Sanction written to the airline on the 23rd of January, 2017.
It will be recalled that violations were detected during a ramp inspection on the airline’s aircraft, Airbus A319 with registration mark 5N-FNE, on the 8th November, 2016, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
After the exercise, it was discovered that the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) was not in possession of a current medical certificate. In addition, the airline similarly rostered the Pilot to carry out operational flights when obviously his medical certificate had expired.
Therefore, the airline and the Pilot violated Parts 22.214.171.124(a), 126.96.36.199(1), 188.8.131.52(a) (1) and 184.108.40.206(a) (24) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015.
Consequently, in accordance with IS 1.3.3. (1)(14) of the Nig.CARs,2015,the airline and Pilot were fined N32 million and N1.5 million being moderate civil penalty for the violation.
However, the airline swiftly filed an appeal to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in disagreement with the reported violations and sanctions.
The Regulatory Authority in its responsiveness and quest to be just and fair to all, constituted an appeal committee to hear the airlines appeal.
The five-man appeal panel had three airline operators, a private legal luminary and NCAA officials as observers. First Nation Airways was represented by four Lawyers, the Pilot and three management staff.
After four days of sitting, submissions and deliberations the panel upheld and reiterated the applicable sanctions meted out to the airline and it’s Pilot.
It arrived at the following conclusions in agreement with the NCAA findings prelude to the application of sanctions.
The ATRL 1874 License of the Pilot in Command of First Nation Airways had expired on the 2nd November, 2016.
The PIC was not in possession of the License during the Ramp inspection on the 8th November, 2016.
The PIC did not have a valid License and was not properly certified from 2nd – 8th November, 2016. The PIC operated 15 flights and the airline roastered the PIC 16 times.
The PIC operated with expired License from 2nd to 8th November, 2016 and there all indications that the Airline knew the PIC did not have a valid license.
This is a very serious safety issue therefore the moderate sanctions applied by the NCAA were reasonable under the circumstances.
The PIC’s argument that he had a valid license when he operated the flights is incorrect, as he had no valid Medical Certificate.
The PIC had 14 days according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations NCARs to apply before the expiration of the license. However, he did not apply until 3rd November, 2016, after expiration.
The invoice was issued by NCAA on the 3rd November,2016.The Pilot did not do the Cardiac Risk Assessment (CRA) test mandatory for his 62 years age even after he was informed by NCAA the Authorised Aviation Medical Examiner (AAME). He did the medical assessment eventually.
The CRA report was dated 7th November, 2016 and was sent to NCAA on the 8th November, 2016.Therefore, the accusation of delay and inefficiency by the Authority is wrong and unfounded. The PIC and the Airline did not follow laid down procedure.
NCAA received the medical report same day, reviewed it and issued the Medical Certificate same day on the 8th November, 2016.
The Panel hereby dismissed all grounds of appeal and upholds the NCAA’s Letters of Sanctions in respect of First Nation Airways and it’s Pilot.
The NCAA will continue to provide level playing field to all Airline Operators.
However, failure to adhere to safety regulations shall attract applicable sanctions.