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Experts weigh in as FG grounds Dana Air after runway incident

Barely 24 hours after a runway incident involving a Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the…

Barely 24 hours after a runway incident involving a Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of the airline, effectively grounding all its scheduled operations.

The suspension came hours after the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo gave the directive to the NCAA, a move that was greeted with mixed reactions from aviation stakeholders and experts who described the Minister’s action as “an interference” in the regulatory power of the NCAA.

Daily Trust reports that in line with the standard and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), only the regulatory authority which is the NCAA has the power to suspend an airline.

Keyamo in the letter with reference number PS/FMA/MA/S.121/Vol. 1/99 titled, “Immediate Suspension of Dana Airline Pending Safety and Financial Health Audit,” said, “As the supervisor overseeing our nation’s aviation safety and regulatory compliance, it has come to the Honourable Minister’s attention that recent incidents involving DANA AIRLINE have raised serious concerns regarding both the safety and financial viability of their operations.

“In light of these incidents and with the paramount priority being the safety and well-being of our citizens and travellers, the Honourable Minister has directed that you immediately initiate the suspension of Dana Airline’s fleet until a comprehensive audit can be conducted.”

Hours after, the Acting Director-General, Civil Aviation, Capt. Chris Najomo in a letter to the airline announced the suspension of its AOC, disclosing that a comprehensive safety and financial audit of the airline would be conducted.

The letter read: “Subsequent to the runway excursion involving your MD-82 aircraft with registration marks 5N-BKI at Murtala Muhammed International Airport on 23rd April, 2024, the Authority is awaiting the preliminary report of the investigation launched by the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).”

“The safety audit will entail a re-inspection of your organization, procedures, personnel and aircraft as specified by Part 1.3.3.3 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, while the economic audit will critically examine the financial health of your airline to guarantee its capability to sustain safe flight operations. Please, this is for your compliance.”

Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, rtd, said, “NCAA has autonomy on Safety Regulations, Oversight and Enforcement,” adding the Minister should not interfere in their oversight responsibility.

A spokesman with the Minister, Moshood Keyamo said the Minister has not committed any act of interference, saying the Minister was not ready to take chance

“He hasn’t tampered or interfered with regulations. It is what we have to do. It is just advice. It has nothing to do with regulation. The Minister is not going to wait until something bad happens,” he said.

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