The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has issued a stern warning to the National Assembly, in particular the House Committee on Aviation, to stay away from the activities of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for political interference in security matters.
NAAPE, the national organization for pilots and engineers, said on Monday that it was not the responsibility of the National Assembly to determine who and when the regulator should issue the Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) to applicants.
President of NAAPE, Engr. Abednego Galadima, while speaking with aviation journalists in Lagos, insisted that the National Assembly undermines the autonomy of the NCAA through its interference with safety concerns when it ordered the regulator not to issue an AOC to a newly created airline, NG Eagle Airlines, sponsored by the Asset Management Corporation. of Nigeria (AMCON).
The House Aviation Committee in Abuja had ordered the NCAA last Wednesday not to grant NG Eagle Airlines an AOC on Arik Air’s old debt and a petition allegedly received from industry unions of the country’s aviation sector.
Arik Air has been under the management of AMCON since February 2017 and the company also sponsors NG Eagle Airlines.
Galadima stated that Section 30 of the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 clearly establishes the powers of the NCAA, granting it to function without political interference, and insisted that the House committee’s statement on the matter was political interference and counter-productive which is short of global best practices.
The president of NAAPE warned that continued interference in NCAA affairs could result in the loss of the Category 1 status of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which Nigeria obtained 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 the fore that Nigeria will soon be facing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audits 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 has outlined requirements and procedures that guide them in determining suitability or otherwise.”
NAAPE insisted that NG Eagle was a good initiative from AMCON and deserved fair treatment, and praised the company for saving thousands of jobs in the industry through its involvement with Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
NAAPE stressed that it is helping AMCON float the NG Eagle and said it will continue to secure jobs for its members and among other things, create more opportunities for the many unemployed pilots and engineers.
Charging Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director-General of NCAA to promptly complete the process of issuing an Air Operator Certificate to the airline, highlighting that the information available to her indicated that the airline had complied with all the requirements established in the regulations.
NAAPE also urged the Minister of Finance, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Salaries and Wages Commission and the management of NCAA to finalise and approve the new Condition of Service (CoS) for NCAA personnel.
The NAAPE also warned that if this was not implemented within the next three weeks, it would not hesitate to hold an indefinite strike to enforce its demand.