Appeal panel upholds N33.5m fine against First Nation

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The N33.5 million fine against First Nation airline by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for violating safety regulations last year has been upheld by an appeal panel set up to investigate the alleged infractions, National Daily has gathered.

Last November, the NCAA had fined the airline N32 million and slammed another N1.5 million against its Pilot In Command (PIC) for flying without a valid license. But the airline filed an appeal following a Letter of Sanction written to it on the 23rd of January, 2017.

According to National Daily findings, the violations were detected during a ramp inspection on the airline’s aircraft, Airbus A319 with registration mark 5N-FNE, on the 8th November, 2016, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

After the exercise, it was discovered that the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) was not in possession of a current medical certificate. In addition, the airline similarly rostered the Pilot to carry out operational flights when obviously his medical certificate had expired.

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The five-man appeal panel had three airline operators, a private legal luminary and NCAA officials as observers. First Nation Airways was represented by four Lawyers, the Pilot and three management staff.

After four days of sitting, submissions and deliberations the panel upheld and reiterated the applicable sanctions meted out to the airline and it’s Pilot.

In the report made available to National Daily, the panel concluded that the ATRL 1874 License of the Pilot in Command of First Nation Airways had expired on the 2nd November, 2016.

“The PIC operated with expired License from 2nd to 8th November, 2016 and there all indications that the Airline knew the PIC did not have a valid license. This is a very serious safety issue therefore the moderate sanctions applied by the NCAA were reasonable under the circumstances.”

It also stated that the PIC’s argument that he had a valid license when he operated the flights is incorrect, as he had no valid Medical Certificate.

“The PIC 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 3rd November, 2016, after expiration,” the report stated.

“The invoice was issued by NCAA on the 3rd November,2016.The Pilot did not do the Cardiac Risk Assessment (CRA) test mandatory for his 62 years age even after he was informed by NCAA the Authorised Aviation Medical Examiner (AAME). He did the medical assessment eventually.”

The report also added that the CRA report was dated 7th November, 2016 and was sent to NCAA on the 8th November, 2016.Therefore, the accusation of delay and inefficiency by the Authority is wrong and unfounded.

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