The process of obtaining the all-important AOC involves five stages.
Stage one is the pre-application phase where the NCAA will appoint a certification team and process the pre-application statement of intent form (AC-OPS 001). In this stage, discussions on all regulatory requirements, the formal application and attachments and any other related issues will take place. This is usually a week's process.
The second stage involves a formal application for intending entrants where documents and manuals (including the curricula vitae of key management personnel) must be submitted for evaluation. The minimum timeframe for the formal application phase is two weeks.
Stage three involves document evaluation where the NCAA will review the applicant's manuals and other related documents and attachments to ensure conformity with the applicable regulations and safe operating practices. The minimum time frame for the document evaluation phase is three months.
The process moves to Phase Four: Demonstration and inspection, this is a key stage of the process carried out only after a satisfactory documentation evaluation phase. In this stage, a thorough audit by the certification team at the applicant's premises will be conducted to ensure that the proposed procedures are effective and that the applicant's facilities and equipment meet the NCAA's regulatory requirements.
Also in this stage, other demonstrations like emergency evacuation and ditching will be carried out and after successes in these exercises; a demonstration flight will be carried out. The minimum time-frame for the demonstration and inspection phase is two months.
The 5th and final phase is certification and this means once the airline has met the regulatory requirements of the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation) Regulations, the NCAA will issue the AOC with the appropriate specifications and ratings. The minimum time frame for the certification phase is one week. And after the issuance of the AOC, the applicant can engage in commercial aviation activities in Nigeria.
Spokesman for the NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye said any prospective airline must fulfil all these requirements before they can be allowed to come on board.
"You don't say I will rent an office, the office must be there. You don't say I will get insurance, no, it has to be there. You don't say, I will have a plane, the plane must be there. They (inspection team) will go there to inspect, pre-shipment flight inspection, clear if it is safe to bring it in and when it lands here on our soil, we now carry a comprehensive audit. If it is okay, they issue a Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) for each one," he said.