Home Uncategorized Helicopter operators irked over alleged use of Police choppers for commercial purposes

Helicopter operators irked over alleged use of Police choppers for commercial purposes

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The alleged use of choppers in the fleet of the Nigeria Police Air Wing for commercial charter flights without the required permit has been frown on by helicopter operators in the country.

The operators say the involvement of Police Air Wing Helicopters in hire and reward operations is jeopardizing the interest of commercial operators which have proper permit, licenses and approvals to carry out charter flights.

According to them, this is also undercutting their market share and resulted in reduction of the cost of charter, adding that such illegal operations has brought down the cost of hiring to Bell Helicopters to a ridiculous 20 per cent the value of such flights.

Investigations revealed that helicopter charter shuttles, for which commercial operators charge $105,000 .00 is being allegedly carried out by the Police Air Wing for a paltry $ 30,000.00.

They say such illegal operations by the Police Air Wing could push scheduled operators out of business if not checked.

A source close to commercial helicopter operators said though helicopters in the Police Air Wing are meant for government services under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations , but they however been allegedly used for commercial services.

The source said : ” The helicopters in the fleet of the Nigeria Police Air Wing are meant for government services and under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations can only operate for the services of Nigeria.

“They cannot operate as a scheduled , non scheduled private operator with airline operating permit or air transport license and air operators’ certificate, but sole with special permit under civil aviation . Instead the Police Air Wing is using their helicopter to conduct commercial charters without the required insurance or permit”.
He added,”This is dangerous as it may be jeopardizing the interest of all commercial operators with the proper permit . The Nigeria Police Air Wing charters the aircraft at a cost 20 per cent less of the normal schedule charters cost.
“This practice apart from being unlawful is dangerous, no insurance carrying civil customers for reward”

According to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) regulations, helicopters in the fleet of the Nigeria Police Air Wing are not authorized to engage in ” reward and hire”, which in aviation par lance is charter operations.

The operators cited examples of the alleged illegal charters between Kaduna to Abuja last year during the Nnamdi Azikwe international airport renovation and also in Gombe, adding that this maybe why, the police cannot perform any security patrol that the equipment were to be used for.

The police just did a job for the Nigerian Army at Biu, laying foundation of Defence University at Biu using two Bell 412 and a Bell 429 flying from Gombe to Biu.This job worth $105,000.00 but was done at $30,000.00 using tax payers fuel, tax payers equipment and jeopardizing investors.”

The operators have however complained to the industry regulator; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to probe alleged infractions by the Police Air Wing.

An official of the regulatory body says it will investigate the matter if it is furnished with details of the operations.
He said though helicopter operations by the Nigeria Police Air Wing is within the regulatory purvey of the NCAA, but however, noted that the helicopters in the fleet of the police are not meant for hire and reward, which in aviation par lance connotes charter.
He  said : ” The NCAA will investigate any allegation of infraction by any operator within our scope of oversight. But, the law does not allow the helicopters on the fleet of the Police to do charter. May be there were involved in inter agency collaboration. Let the operators furnish us with the details of such operations, and the NCAA will investigate.”

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