NG Eagle: Pilots, engineers warn law makers to steer clear of NCAA

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has issued a stern warning to the National Assembly, especially the House Com­mittee on Aviation, to steer clear of activities at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying that its recent comment was tantamount to politi­cal interference on safety issues.

NAAPE, which is the umbrella body of pilots and engineers in the coun­try, declared on Monday that it was out of the pur­view of the National As­sembly to determine who and when the regulatory body should issue Air Op­erators’ Certificate (AOC).

Speaking with aviation journalists in Lagos, Engr. Abednego Galadima, the President of NAAPE, in­sisted that the National As­sembly was undermining the autonomy of NCAA with its interference on safety issues when it di­rected the regulatory body not to issue an AOC to a start-up carrier, NG Eagle Airlines, which is being promoted by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Recall that the House Committee on Aviation had on Wednesday in Abu­ja directed NCAA not to is­sue AOC to NG Eagle Air­lines over the legacy debt of Arik Air and a petition purportedly received from a section of the union in the country’s aviation in­dustry.

Arik Air had been un­der the receivership of AMCON since February 2017 and the corporation is also sponsoring NG Eagle Airlines.

Galadima explained that section 30 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 clearly spelt out powers of NCAA and empowers it to func­tion without political in­terference, insisting that the pronouncement of the House committee on the issue amounted to polit­ical interference and so counterproductive, which falls short of global best practices.

The NAAPE president warned that continued in­terference in the affairs of NCAA may lead to the loss of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Category One status, which Nigeria attained in 2006.

He added, “This has grave consequences on the aviation sector, particular­ly now that the industry is counting her losses occa­sioned by the negative im­pact of COVID-19 and badly needed huge investment in­flows to recover fully.

“It is also important to bring to the fore that Nige­ria will soon be facing In­ternational Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit and practices like this have the potential to make us underperform. It can also cause us to lose our Cate­gory One Status as a nation.

“The contention on whether NCAA should give NG Eagle an AOC or not is very unnecessary and un­called for. We see it clearly as an attempt to politically influence the NCAA’s de­cision on what is clearly a technical process, which have outlined requirements and procedures that guide them in determining suit­ability or otherwise.”

NAAPE insisted that the NG Eagle was a good initiative by AMCON and deserved to be given fair deal and commended the corporation for saving thousands of jobs in the sector through its interven­tion in Arik Air and Aero Contractors.

NAAPE, it emphasised, supported AMCON in floating NG Eagle, saying it would further guarantee jobs for its members and create more opportunities for the teeming unem­ployed pilots and engineers, among others.

It charged Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of NCAA, to immediately conclude the process of is­suing an AOC to the carrier, stressing that information at its disposal indicated that the airline had met all the requirements as stipu­lated by the regulation.

Besides, NAAPE chal­lenged the Minister of Finance, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Salaries and Wages Com­mission and the manage­ment of NCAA to conclude and approve new condition of service (CoS) for staff of NCAA.

It warned that if this was not implemented in the next three weeks, it would not hesitate to embark on an indefinite strike to press home its demand.(Daily Independent)

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