The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has denied Nigeria Air approval to proceed to Phase 2 of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) certification.
In a letter with reference number, NCAA/ DOLTS/GEN/ Vol. 111/16123, addressed to the Managing Director, Nigeria Air, titled: ‘Re: Request to Proceed to Phase Two of AOC Certification’ and signed by Captain O. O. Lawani.
NCAA stated that “The Authority is in receipt of your letter dated 25th May, 2023 on the subject matter.
“Quite contrary to our earlier letter of 16th May, 2023 which enumerated the documents to be submitted with formal application form OPS 002, your letter of request to proceed to Phase Two has no inclusion of a formal application form and the necessary documents referenced in the formal application form. Hence, the certification process cannot progress to phase two without these required documents.
“Please be reminded that your post holder’s letter of commitment to Nigeria Air has a tenure of three months and as such expires now.”
To obtain AOC an airline has to go through five phases. Nigeria Air was on Phase 1 when the former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika displayed an aircraft with foreign registry and Nigeria Air livery on May 26, 2023 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, an action industry observers described as illegal and worse because there was litigation against the airline by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
The five phases that qualify an airline to obtain AOC are as follows: 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.
It is worth noting that Nigeria Air is yet to scale through even the first phase of the five stages it has to go through before it would obtain AOC.