Nigeria: Suspension of Azman Air, Not Punitive, Says NCAA

19 April 2021

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, has said the suspension of Azman Air is not punitive but to prevent a possible air crash.

Nuhu has also called for the review of aviation policies to separate general aviation from scheduled flight service.

He expressed the hope that Azman Air would soon resume flights because it is determined to execute all the recommendations by the regulatory authority so that all the identified gaps in its operations would be closed.

Nuhu, while fielding questions from journalists in Lagos at the weekend said NCAA took safety issues seriously because it was the priority of the agency.

He said before it took any major decision, it conducted investigation or observation before reaching a conclusion.

"Well as a regulatory body, we take the issue of safety seriously. That is our number one priority, including the safe operation of our airlines, or any operator. However, before we take action, we must have concrete evidence.

"We must have a trend. We see what is happening and we do a risk-based analysis and we decide to take action.

"This is because grounding an airline has serious repercussions, both on the availability of service to the public and also to the finances and reputation of the airline. I don't think we were slow in suspending the airline.

"When we reached a point that we were not happy, we called a Zoom meeting. I could have taken the decision on my own, but I am a human being and I know I have my shortcomings. So, I called my entire team. We had a Zoom meeting for about four to five hours before we came to that decision to suspend their operations. I want to say here clearly that it is not a punitive measure. It is our responsibility and duty to guide and work with the operators and assist them to ensure that they are in compliance with our regulations," Nuhu stated.

According to him, the airline is doing well, striving to meet the requirements issued by NCAA as a condition for it to return to the skies.

"I must tell you the response we had from Azman Air has been very encouraging and very positive. They are taking all that we have explained to them. "Now they understand it is even better for them to improve their business model. I have seen a shift and I can guarantee you that by the time Azman complies with all that we want, the public will see a different Azman airline.

"That is our purpose. We are not here to kill anybody or to ruin any airline, but to guide them to operate safely, efficiently and to provide the necessary services to the travelling public. I just received a very impressive response from them concerning what they have done. We are going to start serious training for their people next week," he added.

Meanwhile, Nuhu has also stressed the need for general aviation to be separated from scheduled flight operations, noting that the same policies should not guide the two divisions of flight services.

According to him, if separate policies aimed at developing general aviation is passed into law, it would help to develop the sub-sector, create more jobs for pilots and others in the industry.

"As regards the promotion of general aviation policy, we have the Civil Aviation Act before the National Assembly. Hopefully, it will be passed very soon and passed into law. So, once that is done, and we know what the new NCAA mandate is, we will do a stakeholders meeting for a review of our regulations. I think we need to de-cluster and unbundle our regulations so that the requirements for general aviation were different from the requirements of the airlines. They are not the same risk. So, we need to unbundle those regulations. General aviation could be chartered flights, agric spraying, small tourism aircraft, ambulance and others," he said.

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