Indigenous carriers to undergo recertification - THE NATION
By Kelvin Osa-Okunbor
Airlines operating scheduled commercial flights are to undergo recertification by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), it was learnt at the weekend.
According to experts, carriers are expected to comply with new operational guidelines and protocols rolled out by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic, the major plank of which will focus on the state of airworthiness of aircraft and health protocol of airlines’ crew.
It was gathered that airlines would have to scale fresh hurdles for their aircraft, which must meet post COVID-19 guidelines in terms of maintenance validity and the recurrence of its operating crew concerning licensing currency and type rating.
Last week, NCAA issued a post-COVID-19 restart advisory circular, containing protocol for scheduled carriers.
The circular, with number NCAA-AC-FSG-001, mandates scheduled commercial airlines to apply and obtain an approval from the authority to resume operation once the restriction is lifted.
Its General Manager Public Affairs, Sam Adurogboye, who confirmed the development, said it was part the proactive measures to prepare stakeholders ahead of resumption to achieve seamless flights.
Adurogboye said despite the recent extension of flight restrictions the apex regulatory body is hands-on in its duties and offering all necessary assistance to the operators.
According to him the authority will grant approval to applicants upon satisfactory assessment of airlines for compliance with all relevant COVID-19 guidelines and applicable Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig, CARs) following the prolonged lockdown.
The airlines will be required to show evidence of compliance with actions listed under the immediate action plans required by the NCAA.
“No airline will be given start-up clearance without meeting the restart requirements,” the circular read in part.
One of the items that will be required for immediate actions requested by the authority is the airline’s restart plan to provide assurance of safe operations both from the technical perspective of flight operations to address issues such as aircraft disinfection, aircraft de-preservation, flight crew re-currency or proficiency.
He said: “One of the requirements the airlines will be required to comply with as one of the immediate restart actions is the COVID-19 Public Health Corridor Concept Protocol. It covers a diverse range of topics to protect against COVID-19 infection from passenger boarding, passenger and flight protection in flight to disembarkation. In case of a COVID-19 threat on board, a process to manage the situation is also required.
“The guidance is broken into immediate actions, short, medium and long-term plans by the NCAA to assure operational licenses and aircraft airworthiness certifications are readily available for the airlines to resume operations as quickly and seamlessly as possible when the pandemic is over.
“The immediate, short, medium and long-term plans are organised to address key functional areas listed above which are critical and dependent on the airlines and the Authority. Though ANSP and Airport Operations are critical to flight operations, the actions related to those areas are addressed by two separate sets of guidance issued by the NCAA. This plan is limited to only actions required to be taken by airlines to obtain the NCAA approvals to restart operations.”