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Max Air Aircraft remains grounded as NCAA investigates three fuel suppliers in Lagos, Abuja and Kano over fuel contamination

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The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA has vowed to apply the appropriate sanction on any fuel supplier found culpable in the contamination of fuel of Max Air aircraft engine.

This is just as the regulatory body as commenced investigation to unravel the cause of the over 200 litres of water found inside the tank of Max Air aircraft engine in Yola airport on the 7th May, 2023 which occurred during take off leading to the Auxiliary power unit , APU, shut down on ground at the airport.

This development led to one of the reasons for the NCAA suspension of all Boeing 737 aircraft type in the fleet of Max Air on Thursday.

In a zoom meeting with Aviation Correspondents Friday, the Director General, Civil Aviation, Capt. Musa Nuhu said, the NCAA is not aware of what actually happened but it has kicked off an investigation to look at the fuel suppliers storage facilities, bowsers and procedures of supplying fuel to aircraft.

“Certainly, during aircraft fuelling, they had water in it but we do not know the amount because we were not there. That same day, when the report reached me,  I called for a Zoom meeting with my folks, we spoke and that particular aircraft was grounded”.

He also mentioned that, it would be collaborating with the petroleum regulatory agency to ensure that, all fuel suppliers adhere strictly to the NCAA standards and requirements to ensure no fuel contamination happens in the future.

Explaining further, the DGCA said, what had so far been gathered is that, the aircraft in question took fuel from Lagos, Abuja and Kano, adding that, his team of inspectors would visit all these stations to ascertain where the problem emanated from and nothing would be spared in ensuring the cause of the problem is found.

“We have started investigation and we have identified three aviation fuel companies they took fuel from that day. We will mete out sanctions where necessary. We are going to hold meeting with the regulatory commission in other to ensure compliance with standards”.

He said, until then, Max Air operations would remain grounded.

“The grounding was to ensure it is safe to resume normal passenger operations because when fuel enters the tanks, it goes through the engines, it can do damage to the fuel controlling it, there are a lot of things that can be spoilt, so we have to be sure they take  the appropriate maintenance procedure to ensure continued airworthiness of  the aircraft”.

According to the DGCA Capt. Nuhu, contrary to stakeholders allegations that the NCAA was sleeping while safety was being compromised and waited to take action because of media reports on the incident, said, they had be working under ground and the regulatory agency cannot have a knee jerk and come out and make statements without confirming what the issues are.

“I don’t have to come out and tell the whole world everything we do, we are supposed to speak when we have affirmative action of what is happening”.

Capt. Nuhu recalled a similar incident some years ago when a fuel supplier in Abuja was banned from supplying fuel to the airport due to contamination, adding that, it would ensure this ugly incident does not happen again.
He also emphasized that, it is the responsibility of the airline, captain to check everything including fuel, adding that NCAA staff cannot be in all the fuel stations because they do not have enough staff to go round the stations.

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