Efforts by the management of controversial national carrier, Nigeria Air, to move a step further in obtaining the airline’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC), have been halted by the apex aviation regulatory Agency, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
An AOC, sometimes described as an Air Operator Permit (AOP), is the approval granted by a national aviation authority to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes.
The five phases of acquiring an AOC are Pre-application Phase; Formal Application Phase; Document Evaluation Phase; Demonstration and Inspection Phase, and Certification Phase.
A document obtained by this newspaper shows that the proposed national carrier has yet to exit stage one of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
However, the promoters of Nigeria Air had, a few weeks ago, brazenly brought in a painted Ethiopian Airline aircraft to put up an impression that the project is on course.
As it is, the airline’s management had requested to proceed to phase two of the AOC but failed to attach the relevant documents to the formal application form.
The NCAA, in a letter dated June 2, 2023, and titled, “Re: Request to Proceed to Phase Two of AOC Certification” with reference number NCAA/DOLTS//GEEN/Vol.III/16123, declined the request.
Capt. O.O Lawani, who endorsed the letter on behalf of the Director General, NCAA and addressed it to the Managing Director of Nigeria Air, also reminded that “Post Holders’ letters of commitment to Nigeria Air have a tenure of three months and as such expire now.”
“Quite contrary to our earlier letter of 16th May 2023, which enumerated the documents to be submitted with Formal Application Form OPS 002, your letter of request to proceed to phase two has no inclusion of a Formal Application Form, the necessary documents referenced in the Formal Application Form. Hence, the Certification process cannot progress to Phase Two without these required documents,” the letter explained further.
This latest development, supported claims by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) that Nigeria Air had no AOC to flag off flight operations last Friday, just as it applauded Capt. Musa Nuhu, the DG and his team for not bowing to intimidating external pressure.
Aviation experts have warned about the unnecessary desperate attempts by the previous government to force down the throat of Nigerians, the airline.
To them, Nigeria Air would need a long period of time to scale the mandatory five phases to acquire the AOC before it could technically operate in the country.