Senate backs NCAA on AZMAN airline grounding, Arik scales through

The Senate through its Committee on Aviation, Tuesday, applauded the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over operations’ suspension slammed on Azman airline.

The Aviation regulatory body however, allayed fears of air travellers on  airworthiness of aircrafts in the fleet of Arik airline.

Explaining reasons for the suspension of Azman airline during an interface with the Senate Committee on Aviation on Tuesday at the National Assembly, the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu said  maintenance guidelines in the sector were not being followed by the airline operator.

According to him, NCAA had in the early hours of March 16, suspended operations of Azman airline for failure to comply with aviation safety guidelines and adherence to maintaince practice of its aircrafts.

“We invited their people to come and sit with us, we discussed, we thought we had resolved the issue, but there was a fine against the airline and the Captain.

“We did not want to grand them then, and we had to let them go.
“But on Feb 16 this year, the same aircraft landed in Lagos, the weather was bad and it had a significant tyre failure, and damage to the engine and the face large of the aircraft.

“At that point because of the level  of the damage to the aircraft, it now became the responsibility of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) whose responsibility it is to investigate serious aircraft accident and Incident.

“The airline, keep having the same maintenance issues, and is of concern to me that the aircraft keep having issues.

“It will be irresponsible and criminal negligence on our own part not to take any action.

“I hate granding any airline, it is a lot of money for the operator, and it is going to cause a lot of inconvince for a lot of air travelers, but it will be criminal not to take action.

“It is not to kill the airline but to work with the airline to see what the problems are  and resolve them  so that they can become  a safe airline where we can recommend people to comfortably go and fly,” he said.

He added that the lifting of suspension of the airline would be determined  pending the conclusion of a full financial, safety, security, operations and  maintenance audit of the airline.

On controversey surrounding construction of two airports  in Sagamu and Wasami in Ogun state, Musa said available records at the disposal of NCAA indicates that  approval was given  for construction of a cargo airport in Shagamu. 

He however, said he only heard of the approval for an airport for Wasami, saying that there was no documented records  available to the NCAA on Wasami airport.

But when asked on airworthiness of aircrafts in the fleet of Arik airlines, the NCAA boss said based on checks carried out on them recently, they are airworthy.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), said the decision of NCAA  to suspend the operations of Azman airline was tenable given the maintenance and safety issues emanating from the investigation of NCAA.

He said the committee would still write and prevail on federal government to see need to provide further bailout fund for the avation sector.

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