By Louis Ibah
First Nation Airways has been asked to pay the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) about N33.5million as fine for the breach of Nigeria’s civil aviation law by one if its pilot.
The violations were detected during a ramp inspection on the airline’s aircraft, Airbus A319 with registration mark 5N-FNE, on November 8, 2016, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
It was discovered that the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) was not in possession of a current or valid medical certificate.
However, the airline swiftly filed an appeal in disagreement with the reported violations and sanctions following a Letter of Sanction written to its management on January 23, 2017.
But a statement on Sunday said a judgment by a five-man appeal panel sitting in Lagos had upheld and reaffirmed the civil sanctions imposed on the airline and one of its pilots by the NCAA late January, 2017.
“The pilot-in-command operated with expired license from November 2 – 8,2016 and there all indications that the airline knew the PIC did not have a valid license,” said the panel in its final report.
“The PIC’s argument that he had a valid license when he operated the flights is incorrect, as he had no valid medical certificate. And this is a very serious safety issue therefore the moderate sanctions applied by the NCAA were reasonable under the circumstances,” the report added.
The five-man appeal panel had three airline operators, a private legal expert and NCAA officials as observers. First Nation Airways was represented by four lawyers, its pilot and three management staff.
The panel noted that the Pilot in Command had 14 days according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations NCARs to apply before the expiration of the license. However, he did not apply until November 3, 2016, after its expiration.
The panel noted that the invoice was issued by NCAA on the November 3,2016.The Pilot did not do the Cardiac Risk Assessment (CRA) test, mandatory for him at 62 even after he was informed by NCAA, the Authorised Aviation Medical Examiner (AAME). He did the medical assessment eventually.