NCAA issues three-day ultimatum for review of private aircraft operators, licences

Suspends three operators for illegal hire-and-reward services

Apparently to sanitise the general aviation segment of local aviation, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Nigeria, yesterday, ordered a three-day ultimatum for all private operators and holders of non-commercial flight permits to submit for a re-evaluation.

The directive memo, signed by the Acting Director-General of the CAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, is coming after the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, threatened to go after illegal charter operators.

It will be recalled that a Hawker800 aircraft, conveying the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, his aides, and friends, crash-landed in Ibadan last year. The accident investigation report by the National Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) revealed that the aircraft, operated by Flints Aero Services Limited, had a Permit for Non-commercial Flight (PNCF), and therefore operated the minister’s hire-and-reward flight illegally.

Such illegality, which is all too frequent among the rich and public officers, contravenes the Nigeria Civil Aviation Act, robs the government and aviation agencies of statutory taxes and charges, and deprives victims of insurance coverage in case of incidents and accidents.

Najomo noted that the use of private jets for commercial purposes had gotten the attention of the minister in 2023, who issued marching orders for the cessation of such acts.

The apex regulatory body, CAA, had also last month issued a warning to holders of the PNCF, against engaging in the carriage of passenger, cargo, or mail for hire-and-reward.

The DG added that the Authority had also deployed its officials to monitor the activities of private jets at terminals across the airports in Nigeria. Because of the surveillance, he said, no fewer than three private operators were found to be involved in violation of the annexure provision of their PNCF and Part 9114 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2023.

“In line with our zero tolerance for violation of regulations, the Authority has suspended the PNCF of these operators.

“To further sanitise the general aviation sector, I have directed that a re-evaluation of all holders of PNCF be carried out on or before the 19th of April 2024 to ascertain compliance with regulatory requirements,” Najomo said.

By the directive, all PNCF holders are required to submit relevant documents to the authority within the next 72 hours.

The riot act is also directed at existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders, who utilise aircraft listed on their PNCF for commercial charter operations.

The Guardian earlier reported that the post-COVID-19 economic realities dipped the General Aviation segment with a drastic reduction in the number of private jets in the country, declining from over 200 in 2015 to about 100 in 2022, out of which about 46 are active.

Operators also started deploying creative measures to cope with the trying times and drawn-out debt crises, though in a violation of civil aviation rules.

Besides evading duties accruable to the Federal Government, more owners were boycotting local rules to retain foreign registration numbers.

Most disturbing for the sector is the illegal use of private jets for commercial and chartered operations – an encroachment into the turf of licensed air transport operators.

Najomo emphasised that only aircraft listed in the Operation Specifications of the AOC are authorised to be used in the provision of such charter services.

“Any of those AOC holders, who wish to use the aircraft for charter operations must apply to the NCAA to delist the affected aircraft from the PNCF and include it in the AOC operations specification.

“NCAA wishes to reiterate to the travelling public not to patronise any airline charter operator who does not hold a valid Air Operators Certificate issued by the NCAA when they wish to procure charter operations services,” he said.

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