NATIONAL Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), today warned the House Committee on Aviation about meddling into activities of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), staying clearly that it was messing with the agency’s autonomy and would have fire consequences.
The umbrella body of pilots and engineers in the country, also lambasted the committee stressing that they were not a debt recovery agency and so should not be used to scuttle what the nation has worked hard to attain.
National President NAAPE, Engineer Abednego Galadima further stated that it was out of the purview of the National Assembly to determine who the regulatory body issues an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) and when.
Speaking with aviation journalists in Lagos, Engr. Galadima insisted that the National Assembly was undermining the autonomy of NCAA with its interference on safety issues when it directed the regulatory body not to issue an AOC to a start-up carrier, NG Eagle Airlines, which is being promoted by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Recalled that the House Committee on Aviation had last Wednesday in Abuja, directed NCAA not to issue AOC to NG Eagle Airlines over the legacy debt of Arik Air and a petition purportedly received from a section of the unions in the country’s aviation industry.
Arik Air had been under the receivership of AMCON since February 2017 and the corporation is also sponsoring NG Eagle Airlines.
Galadima explained that Section 30 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 clearly spelt out powers of NCAA and empowers it to function without political interference, insisting that the pronouncement of the House Committee on the issue amounted to political-interference and it’s counterproductive, which falls short of global best practices.
The NAAPE President warned that continuous interferences in the affairs of NCAA may lead to the loss of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Category One Status, which Nigeria attained in 2006.
He added: “This has grave consequences on the aviation sector, particularly now that the industry is counting her losses occasioned by the negative impact of Covid-19 and badly need huge investment inflows to recover fully. It is also important to bring to fore that Nigeria will soon be facing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit and practices like this have the potential to make us underperform. It can also cause us to lose our Category One Status as a nation.
“The contention on whether NCAA should give NG Eagle an AOC or not is very unnecessary and uncalled for. We see it clearly as an attempt to politically influence the NCAA’s decision on what is clearly a technical process, which have outlined requirements and procedures that guide them in determining suitability or otherwise.”
NAAPE insisted that the NG Eagle was a good initiative by AMCON and deserved to be given fair deal and commended the corporation for saving thousands of jobs in the sector through its intervention in Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
NAAPE emphasised that it supported AMCON in floating NG Eagle, saying it would further guarantee jobs for its members and create more opportunities for the teeming unemployed pilots and engineers among others.
It charged Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of NCAA to immediately conclude the process of issuing an AOC to the impending carrier, stressing that information at its disposal indicated that the airline had met all the requirements as stipulated by the regulation.