Ap­peal Panel Up­holds NCAA’s N33.5m Sanc­tion on First Na­tion, Pi­lot


Chinedu Eze

The Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (NCAA) has an­nounced that a five-man ap­peal panel has up­held and reaf­firmed the civil sanc­tions im­posed on First Na­tion Air­ways and one of its pi­lots by the agency over in­frac­tions for which the air­line was pe­nalised N33.5 mil­lion.

NCAA made this known yes­ter­day in a state­ment signed by its spokesman, Sam Adurog­boye, and said the up­hold­ing of the sanc­tion was con­tained in the re­port sub­mit­ted by the panel to the reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity at the con­clu­sion of the sit­ting.

The agency ex­plained that First Na­tion Air­ways had ear­lier filed an ap­peal fol­low­ing a Let­ter of Sanc­tion writ­ten to the air­line on January 23, 2017, and re­called that vi­o­la­tions were de­tected dur­ing a ramp in­spec­tion on the air­line’s air­craft, Air­bus A319 with reg­is­tra­tion mark 5N-FNE, on November 8, 2016, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe In­ter­na­tional Air­port (NAIA), Abuja.

“After the ex­er­cise, it was dis­cov­ered that the Pi­lot-in­Com­mand (PIC) was not in pos­ses­sion of a cur­rent med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate. In ad­di­tion, the air­line sim­i­larly the Pi­lot was added on the ros­ter to carry out op­er­a­tional flights when ob­vi­ously his med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate had ex­pired.

“There­fore, the air­line and the pi­lot vi­o­lated Parts,, (1) and (24) of the Nige­ria Civil Avi­a­tion Reg­u­la­tions (NigCARs) 2015. Con­se­quently, in ac­cor­dance with IS 1.3.3. (1) (14) of the NigCARs 2015,the air­line and pi­lot were fined N32 mil­lion and N1.5 mil­lion re­spec­tively be­ing mod­er­ate civil penalty for the vi­o­la­tion,” the state­ment said.

The agency noted that the air­line swiftly filed an ap­peal in dis­agree­ment with the re­ported vi­o­la­tions and sanc­tions and NCAA in a bid to be fair con­sti­tuted an ap­peal com­mit­tee to hear the air­lines ap­peal.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, “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 its 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 November 2, 2016. The PIC was not in pos­ses­sion of the li­cence dur­ing the ramp in­spec­tion on November 8, 2016. The PIC did not have a valid li­cence and was not prop­erly cer­ti­fied from November 2 to 8, 2016.”

It also re­marked that the PIC op­er­ated 15 flights and the air­line added him on the roaster 16 times.

“The PIC op­er­ated with ex­pired li­cence from November 2 to 8, 2016, and there are all in­di­ca­tions that the air­line knew the PIC did not have a valid li­cence. 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 li­cence when he op­er­ated the flights is in­cor­rect, as he had no valid med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate,” NCAA also said.

The agency re­marked that the PIC had 14 days ac­cord­ing to the Nige­ria Civil Avi­a­tion Reg­u­la­tions (NCARs) to ap­ply be­fore the ex­pi­ra­tion of the li­cence. How­ever, he did not ap­ply un­til November 3, 2016, after the ex­pi­ra­tion.

“The in­voice was is­sued by NCAA on the November 3, 2016. The pi­lot did not do the Car­diac Risk As­sess­ment (CRA) test manda­tory for his 62 years of 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 November 7, 2016, and was sent to NCAA on November 8, 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 November 8, 2016. The panel hereby dis­missed all grounds of ap­peal and up­holds the NCAA’s Let­ters of Sanc­tions in re­spect of First Na­tion Air­ways and its pi­lot,” the agency added.

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