Monday, 6 February 2017

FIRSTNATION AND PILOT VIOLATE AVIATION SAFETY RULES, FACE N33.5MILLION FINE

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has 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.”

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. (Guardian)