There are hosts of new airlines that are currently battling to get the Air Operators Certificates (AOC), to enable them start operations in Nigeria. They may not get the license anytime soon, as the Nigerian Covil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is bent on crossing all ‘Ts’ and dotting all ‘Is’.
This was disclosed by the General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye in an exclusive interview with an aviation-focused medium.
While some new entrants have expressed interest to commence ownership of airlines, Adurogboye disclosed that others have reached various stages in the acquisition of their AOCs.
Some of the airlines are NG Eagle, Green Africa Airways, which have reached an advanced stage in its acquisition of an AOC. Rano Air, Northeast Shuttle and a host of others have expressed interest too but are still being considered.
According to the NCAA spokesperson, the regulatory body does not delay these intending investors as erroneously thought but ensures they follow the laid down stages.
He said, “It’s a good thing to desire to come onboard. The process is a black and white thing. What you need to do in one phase to go to second, second to third, you fulfill it and the team that is in charge work as a team. It is not by the director-general at any particular time. It’s a team of engineers, airworthiness inspectors, medical. It’s a team and nobody can influence the other.”
Below are stages to obtain AOC:
Phase 1 – pre-application phase:
The NCAA will appoint a certification team and process the pre-application statement of intent form (AC-OPS 001). Discussions on all regulatory requirements, the formal application and attachments and any other related issues will take place. This is usually a week’s process.
Phase 2 – It involves a formal application for intending entrant where documents and manuals (including the curriculum vitae of key management personnel) must be submitted for evaluation. The minimum timeframe for the formal application phase is two weeks.
Phase 3 – It is a document evaluation phase where the NCAA will review the applicant’s manuals and other related documents and attachments to ensure conformity with the applicable regulations and safe operating practices. The minimum time-frame for the document evaluation phase is three months.
Adurogboye added that the processes seem simple and straight forward enough and these requirements are not there to deter any investor. Contrary to that, they are meant to show capacity for safety for the particular operations to be embarked on.
He stressed that new airlines only come on board once they have fulfilled all the requirements in the stage process stating that the most critical of those stages are stages three and handing over the AOC to the operator.
“If the new airlines are yet to come on board, it means they are yet to fulfill all the requirements because it is a stage process and the critical stage is third stage to the handing over of the AOC. In the critical stage you have to do flight demonstration and that requires you flying to all the routes you want to go, flying it empty.
“If its international routes, you do the same with the whole crew and the NCAA team. You buy fuel and you’re not taking any passengers, you fly them to and fro all those routes that is the stage that is most critical and expensive also. If an airline has not gotten to all those stages, it wouldn’t get AOC,“ he added.
Another reason these investors experience delay is security, which either party do not have control over. This is when the airline is being referred and hand over to security agencies for checks, a stage that can take months or more.