Home Uncategorized Nigeria Air: Impediments to AOC Process, assigned duties of the Interim MD

Nigeria Air: Impediments to AOC Process, assigned duties of the Interim MD

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NIGERIA AIR

..sources claim Ethiopian airline will take over immediately the AOC is acquired

The outpour of anger that greeted the unveiling of the Nigeria Air owned Ethiopian aircraft in Abuja is still flowing.

There has been accusations and counter-accusations of the abysmal handling of the entire project by the former minister, Hadi Sirika and its partners including the National Assembly Committees on Aviation.

However, the recent probe by the National Assembly Committees on Aviation chaired by Senator Abiodun Olujimi and Mr. Nnolim Nnaji on the Nigeria Air and the controversies surrounding it, some stakeholders described the probe as unnecessary and a ploy by the committees to exonerate itself from certain blames regarding the project.

They wondered why, the committees would come out now to say, the project is a scam and a fraud when it had been established before now during a public hearing some time ago called by them.

They sought to ask, if the project is a fraud, were where they when the minister continued the project without briefing them on the process and who has been approving funds for the projects?

“The committees has questions to answer too not only the minister, they cannot fray ignorance of the situation”… says one of the stakeholders

Why was a chartered aircraft from Ethiopian airlines brought in? According to the interim Managing Director, Nigeria Air, Capt. Dapo Olumide, “it is to show to Nigerians how the real aircraft would look like”.

Again, why did the airline not take off, that is launched?

Investigations have revealed certain facts and the fact is that, the Air Operators Certificate, AOC, was not ready yet even though having an Air Transport License, ATL.

Nigeria Air: AOC Phase 

In a recent letter to the DGCA, the interim Managing Director, Nigeria Air requested to proceed to phase 2 of the AOC process but was denied due to failure to present certain documents.

An AOC process is expected to take no less than 12 months minimum and may exceed if processes are stalled due to documentation or other reasons, making the hurry to pass off a chartered flight as the country’s national carrier aircraft moot especially when the Government contracted a professional to do the job.

Captain Olumide during an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Aviation, said, the AOC process has gone from the first phase to the second one but the problem is when you change post holders which is a technical term for director of maintenance, or chief pilot.

When you change post holders or replace them completely, you have to go back to phase one to interview them to be compliant to the civil aviation authority.

The five step AOC  processes are Phase 1 – Pre-Application Phase; Phase 2 – Formal Application Phase; Phase 3 – Document Evaluation Phase; Phase 4 –  Demonstration and Inspection Phase; Phase 5 – Certification Phase.

Many of the regulatory requirements for an AOC include the recruitment of post holders (Chief Pilot, Director of Operations, Director of Maintenance and Quality Manager), flight dispatchers, flight crew and the provision of facilities at the airport for an operational control centre for the airline’s operations.

It is being alleged that, Ethiopians will take over the minute they get the AOC and with 49% it becomes an Ethiopian airline operating in Nigeria automatically.

Challenges to the NA AOC Process 

Investigation alleged that, Capt. Olumide was not given a freehand to actually do this as immense pressure came from on top to sidestep the processes in a hurry to meet unrealistic deadlines despite Professional disagreement.
Stakeholders who prefer to remain anonymous alleged that, the whole AOC process has taken so long because of the interference of the minister and the lackadaisical attitude of the ministry especially with regards provision of needed infrastructure to drive the process to new stages.

“Look the truth is that the AOC process would have been in the bag but for the Ministry which does not provide certain infrastructure for the AOC stage they are in, this slows everything down. So Captain Olumide may know what to do and how, but he does not have a free hand to do  what must be done”.

“Take for example, the post holders they were on contracts and the Government can only give three months to contractors because they are not employees of the Government, and their time elapsed. Aviation is different from a lot of fields in that everything is time based. If they had had an extension the NCAA would have progressed the AOC to the next stage but changing one post holder is something but changing all means the process has to restart.” 

The stakeholders disclosed that apart from the Ministry, the Court Injunction by the Airline Operators of Nigeria ( AON) in November 2022 also halted the process of recruitment of critical personnel like flight dispatchers, flight crew and the provision of facilities at the airport for an operational control centre for the airline’s operations.

“I also think if not for the court order, Captain Olumide may have gone far with the AOC process. When the AON went to court and got the injunction it further stalled things for Nigeria Air but it is good that Olumide had set up the OCC already”.

The Interim MD’s Job in the proposed Airline

Alleged to have been appointed solely to process legal documentation and hand over to the Ethiopians when done.

Captain Olumide’s  involvement in the project began in March 2022 to work on the technical aspects of securing an AOC and was not under the employ of the Nigeria Air project back in  2016 – 2018 during  the set-up of the airline, nor the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission/ Bureau of Public Procurement (ICRC/BPP) tender process as he came .

At the Senate Committee probe last week, Captain Olumide had explained that his mandate was to ensure the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air, get an Air Transport License ( ATL) and an Air Operators Certificate ( AOC) having been following his wealth of experience.

Olumide who was appointed in March 2022 secured Nigeria Air its ATL with number NCAA/ATR1/ATL214 for a period of five (5)years till in June 3, 2022  to elapse June 2nd, 2027, however, the airline is yet to acquire an AOC as the interim Managing Director started the five step process but was stalled on stage one.

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