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NCAA, operator in brawl over botched AOC renewal

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited (TAL) are in a brawl over the agency’s failed attempt to renew the firm’s Air Operating Certificate (AOC).
 
TAL, an aviation and logistics service provider, alleged that the NCAA’s airworthiness department is designed to frustrate local operators out of business, “a function of who you know to get AOC”, which is at variance with the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).
 
The apex regulator, however, pushed back, denying the allegations, saying the airline did not meet the requirement for renewal, and engaging in blackmail to taint the reputation of NCAA and Nigeria in the global aviation community.  
 

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Airline operators recently fault 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 ICAO, which oversees global aviation regulations and policies.
 
TAL has been caught in the web of “rather difficult” renewal processes in the last eight months, for which its operation has been shut down.
 
Chairman of TAL, Emperor Baywood Ibe, alleged that there is verifiable evidence to prove that a staff of NCAA connived with NHV, a Danish operator, to ensure that TAL’s AOC was not renewed.
 
Baywood said for about a year, TAL’s operations have been grounded as the regulatory agency declined requests for an extension and renewal of its AOC causing it to lose over $7m following the closure. 

Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Femi Adeniji, noted that TAL applied for the renewal of its AOC on Sept. 7, 2020, 47 days before the expiration of its AOC, when 30 days is required in accordance with NCAA Part 9 (9.1.1.8) with all post holders completed as per 9.2.2.4.
 
Adeniji acknowledged that some NCAA officials are great supporters of the operators, working diligently above board to ensure a smooth process of renewal and ensuring the operators are not grounded for any reason.
 
But in this case, “there is abundant evidence that all manuals were submitted and some re-submitted with amendments, as it was said that some were lost by the NCAA’s Airworthiness Department, MCM, AMP, MEL after seven months of submission. It is on the record that futile attempts were made to heap the blame on COVID-19.
 
“New manuals were, however, reprinted and re-submitted to avert any delay. Surprisingly, the lost manuals were later found. Even having complied, the AOC renewal was still delayed by the Airworthiness Department of NCAA,
 

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“Consequently, the operation has been grounded, due to an unusual delay in processing the AOC to date. TAL then applied for an extension of its AOC in a letter dated December 16, 2020 to avoid total grounding of operation. This again was denied for reasons best known to the Authority, despite TAL’s possession of a complete post holder management. This is not the ease of doing business that the Vice President preaches,” Adeniji said.
 
He said while TAL has decided to suspend AOC renewal actions despite concluding phase three of the process, it was important for the NCAA Director General (DG) to investigate some of his officers and their relationships with NHV, “all the effort to run TAL aground”.
 
DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, told The Guardian that the crux of the matter is that TAL has not met the requirements to earn an AOC renewal.
 
He said: “When he does, I will sign the approval. Flight is a very sensitive matter and we are duty-bound to prevent dangerous operations. We (NCAA) had issues in the past, but I don’t know what happened. But now, we comply with all our regulations.
 
“AOC is done by a team of experts and not by one person. So, one person cannot stop the process of AOC as they are alleging. Even the person they are alleging claims is not a member of the team. I operate an open-door policy. If they have any issue, let them file a formal complaint or come to me, or go to the minister or Senate Committee on Aviation, among others. That is the way to do it, rather than keep damaging the country’s reputation.”

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