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Airline loses N33.5m fine appeal against NCAA


FirstNation Airways

FirstNation Airways has lost its bid to upturn the sanction and fine of N33.5million issued against it by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over alleged violation of rules.

A five-man appeal panel, which heard the airline’s application, upheld the civil sanctions imposed on it.

The airline was last February sanctioned for alleged violations that were detected during a ramp inspection on its aircraft, Airbus A319 with registration No 5N-FNE.

It was alleged that the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) did not have a valid medical certificate. It was further stated that the airline included the pilot’s name in the roster for an operational flight, knowing that his medical certificate had expired.

Citing the offences as violations of the NCAA (Nig.CARs) 2015, the airline and pilot were fined N32million and N1.5m moderate civil penalties, which the airline protested against.

The spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said the regulatory authority in its quest to be just and fair to all, constituted the panel to hear the airline’s appeal.

The five-man appeal panel had three airline operators, a private lawyer and some NCAA officials as observers. Four lawyers, the sanctioned pilot and three management staff represented FirstNation Airways.

The panel upheld the sanction after sitting for four days.

In arriving at the decision, the panel said: “The ATRL 1874 License of the Pilot-in-Command of FirstNation Airways had expired on the November 2, 2016.

“The PIC was not in possession of the licence during the ramp inspection on November 8, 2016. He did not have a valid licence and was not properly certified from November 2016. The PIC operated 15 flights and was on roaster to fly16 times.

“The PIC operated with expired licence from November 2 to 8, 2016 and there are indications that the airline knew that he did not have a valid licence, which is a very serious safety issue. Therefore the moderate sanctions applied by the NCAA were reasonable under the circumstances.”

The panel adjudged as incorrect, the pilot’s defence that he had a valid licence when he operated the flights.

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