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NCAA insists on rigorous AOC protocol, two-year validity period

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Green Africa airline

•Green Africa gets approval, begins operation
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has rallied behind the controversial rigorous process of obtaining an Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and its revalidation every two years.

The apex regulatory body, in reaction to operators’ call for review, said the current procedure aligns with global best practices and is tailored towards safe operations.

In a related development, a new scheduled carrier, Green Africa, has been awarded AOC. Following the successful completion of all five phases of the AOC application process, Green Africa was recently presented with the AOC at the NCAA headquarters in Abuja.

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With the certificate, Green Africa will be able to commence operations in accordance with its initial route network unveiled earlier in June.

Airline operators recently faulted the two-year validity period on the AOC and the tedious process, describing them as detrimental to sectoral growth.

The operators said the routine requirement of going the whole hog of revalidation every two years is alien to rules of commercial operating procedure of the International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO), which oversees global aviation regulations and policies.

Director-General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, said the authority would not compromise in the enforcement of safety standards, regulatory requirements and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in conformity with all regulatory requirements and ICAO’s SARPs in the initial issuance and renewal of all AOC irrespective of the personality or organisation involved.

Nuhu noted that the five-phase AOC process – both initial and renewal – is not peculiar to Nigeria as it is an ICAO requirement (ICAO Annex 6 Parts I and III and ICAO Document 8335) which is captured in Nig.CARS 2015 Part 9 on AOC Certification.

“These strict regulations are to ensure only qualified applicants are granted AOC. This is one of the main reasons Nigeria attained FAA IASA Category 1 in the first instance,” Nuhu said.

The DG added that Nig.CARS 2015 were established with the participation and consultation of all industry stakeholders and must be complied with to the full extent until such a time there is a review of the regulations.

This is the reason for the name: Nigerian Civil Regulations (Nig.CARS), rather than NCAA Regulations.

Nuhu bemoaned allegations of sharp practices and inexperience inspectors at the NCAA, describing the claims as false and a subtle attempt to tarnish the image of the apex body.

“All inspectors irrespective of their prior qualifications and or experience must undergo a comprehensive training programme under the Inspector Training System (ITS). These include five mandatory courses, appropriate specialised courses and On-the-Job-Training. This training system, which is continuously ongoing, is not only recognised but also recommended by ICAO. ITS applies to all inspectors without exception.”

However, he reckoned that the NCAA is not a perfect entity and had its own peculiar challenges and difficulties like all organisations.

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“One major challenge is that of manual processes in the authority that can be cumbersome, inefficient and difficult. Management has recognised these shortcomings and developed plans to digitize its documentation and automate its internal processes not only for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness but most importantly to deal with the rapid growth of the domestic industry.

“The plan among others includes the acquisition of Safety Oversight Management System (currently in procurement), which forms the backbone of several CAAs. The implementation of this system is expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Other measures include the implementation of a Quality Management System, ISO 9001 Certification together with Technical Quality Assurance. Change management ranks high in the successful implementation of these plans and it is being given the appropriate level of attention and resources,” Nuhu said.

He extended a hand of friendship to all industry players for the benefit of the nation and stressed that the NCAA was a partner in progress rather than the proverbial industry policeman.

“The Authority is ready and willing to work with all parties to resolve any challenge or difficulty they may face as it has already done with many.”

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