The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said airlines that wait until their Air Operator Certificates expire before renewing them will be grounded. According to the NCAA, its regulations require airline operators to renew their AOC’s at least 30 days before expiration.
Some stakeholders in the aviation industry had at a recent conference in Lagos, faulted the AOC process. Airline operators, as required by the NCAA, renew their AOCs every two years. The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said, “There are five stages involved in AOCs’ renewal, all of which are very crucial and are done with cautiousness to ensure the stages are duly passed.
According to him, at the initial stage, the operator or intended operator will write the authority and signify its intention for an exploratory meeting to discuss with them. He said, “After that, we start other phases through the final phase, in which the operator would conduct some flights and inspection of their base facilities to ensure that they are capable and approve what they have claimed in their inspection before they are approved for the AOC.
“AOC is one of the important certifications you can give in the aviation industry because that is what approves an airline for operations.” According to him, the different five stages have different processes to ensure and confirm legitimacy as well financial and technical capabilities.
Nuhu said, “If you wait till your AOC expires, that means you are not going to fly. If your AOC expires, you are grounded. The regulation says at least 30 days before expiration. “But because of the difficulties they have meeting with certifications, the regulation says 30 days, but nothing stops you from meeting the regulation 60 or 90 days so that if there is any issue or challenge you have, you can resolve it before your AOC actually expires.”
Airline operators that have had issues with AOC prior to the commencement of operations included Green Africa.
Green Africa, before its inaugural flight in August, had announced in June the delay in operations due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding its AOC. “At a joint meeting between top officials of the regulatory body and senior executives of Green Africa, it was concluded that the airline’s Air Operator’s Certificate will not be available till July 2021 due to unforeseen circumstances,” the airline had said.
The Chairman of Tropical Arctic Logistics, Emperor Ibe, was quoted in a recent interview as saying TAL’s operations had been grounded for over a year due to issues surrounding its AOC renewal thereby causing it to lose over $7million. Industry experts have said the N200,000 paid by the airline operators was not the problem but the rigorous system of repeating the same thing every two years.
An aviation expert, Olumide Ohunayo, said the NCAA should embrace the use of technology rather than manual processes, to help the operators reduce the stress attached to the renewal process.