The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, yesterday imposed what it called an applicable sanction on Aero Contractors Airlines, in line with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs.
Aero Contractors was involved in the saga at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi, at the weekend, where passengers on a chartered flight from Abuja were pictured disembarking from the airline’s aircraft using a ladder.
In a statement explaining its position on the viral photo, which was considered embarrassing, the management of Aero Contractors said the agitated passengers on the Boeing 737-500 chartered flight from Abuja to Bauchi, which included a groom, who was already late for his wedding, forced the flight captain, Nikcevic Vlado, to allow them disembark using a ladder after waiting 10 minutes for the airport manager to provide the airstairs.
While absolving itself of blame, the Accountable Manager and Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Russel Lee Foon, attributed the breach in operational procedures to failure of the Bauchi airport management, who he insisted assured the airline of adequate ground handling services before the airline embarked on the flight.
Besides, he said the pilot would not have allowed a breach of safety procedure, but was unsure of the temperament of the passengers, who declined to return to Abuja.
Dissatisfied with the reasons adduced, the NCAA, in a statement issued by its Ag General Manager, Public Relations, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, said it imposed an applicable sanction on Aero Contractors Airlines in line with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs)
“In a letter conveying the sanction, the Director General of the Regulatory Authority, Capt. Muhtar Usman, said the action of Aero Contractors Airline in allowing the use of a ladder to disembark passengers from a Boeing 737 – 500 aircraft in a non-emergency situation is contrary to its approved aircraft handling manual.
“Therefore this is a violation of Part 126.96.36.199(b) of Nig.CARs, which part attracts a civil penalty. All relevant agencies made useful submissions during the course of the investigation”, the statement read.
The statement further quoted the DG as stating in the letter that, in view of the safety implications of Aero Contractors Airlines’ action, he had to sanction it in accordance with the provisions of Part 20.2.3(15) of the Nig.CARs.
“Although the incident did not result in any mishap, the aircraft is airworthy and the Crew well qualified to operate the flight. However, it is viewed as a breach and resultantly, a fine running into millions of naira have been clamped on the airline to serve as deterrence and to forestall any similar infraction by any other airline operator.
“In addition, the Captain of the flight was similarly fined for failing to comply with the provisions contained in the aircraft manual.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, therefore wishes to reiterate its earlier warning that all airlines should endeavour to adhere strictly to Civil Aviation Regulations”, the statement concluded.