By Chinelo Obogo
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria (NCAA) has lifted the ban on the use of Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes two years after prohibiting airlines from using it for operations after it had two fatal accident in six months.
The Director General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said in a notice that the aircraft has now been given approval to operate in Nigeria’s airspace.
The Boeing 737 brand of aircraft was involved in two fatal crashes within a space of six months. The first was an Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all souls onboard.
Six months later, Ethiopian Airlines B737 Max 8 aircraft crashed on March 10, 2019, near the town of Bishoftu, six minutes after take-off, killing all 157 persons onboard.
Investigation into the crash partly attributed it to a flawed flight control system, which was triggered by faulty sensor data.
There was widespread condemnation in the aviation industry after the crashes and many aviation authorities worldwide canvassed for the aircraft to be banned pending when investigations would be concluded on the probable cause of the accident.
Following the crashes, the Ministry of Aviation on March 13, 2019, placed a ban on the operations of B737 Max 8 aircraft in Nigeria’s airspace.
But, a statement by Nuhu on Sunday said that the Federal Government has lifted the sanction on the operations of the airline into the country’s airspace.
Nuhu said that the approval was effective from February 12, 2021.
According to him, the authority had on November 18, 2020, received a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) CAN-2020-24 advising it of the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ongoing continued operational safety activities related to returning Boeing Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) aircraft service.
The statement hinted that this made the FAA to issue a final rule/Airworthiness Directive (AD) that mandated Boeing Manufacturer to install new flight control computer software and new 737 MAX display system software, incorporate certain Airplane Flight Manual flight crew operating procedures, modify horizontal stabiliser trim wire routing installations and conduct an angle of attack sensor system test and conduct of an operation readiness flight by Boeing.
According to him, the regulatory authority recognised that a Joint Authority Technical Review (JATR) that comprised of International Aviation Authorities such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada (TC) and the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority amongst others carried out a joint review of the Boeing 737 MAX safety system alongside FAA and NASA.
He explained that in the light of these, FAA had released documents on Boeing 737 Flight Standardisation Board Report, revision 17, identifying special pilot training for the 737 MAX and Safety Alert for Operators, stressing that NCAA recognises the joint review of the Boeing 737 Max Safety System.
With these, he directed that all intending domestic operators are required to work with the Boeing Company and NCAA for the Aircraft Type Certificate Acceptance Programme in order to have the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft registered in Nigeria and issued with a Standard Certificate of Airworthiness, while all foreign air operators that intend to operate the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into Nigeria must submit evidence of compliance with the FAA AD 2020-24-02.
He assured that NCAA would continue to ensure strict compliance to safety regulations, threatening that any violation would be viewed seriously.