Nigerian regulator lifts safety ban on Azman Air operations - CH-AVIATION
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has lifted its suspension of Azman Air's B737 operations after greenlighting corrective measures implemented by the carrier following a safety audit.
Among the violations the NCAA listed in its March post-grounding audit included an unsettled debt of NGN1.545 billion naira (USD3.782 million) owed as at December 2020. Other shortcomings included the "incompetence" of both Azman's maintenance director as well as chief pilot, both of whom were blamed for a poor culture of safety at the airline and who have since been replaced.
In a statement on May 1, 2021, the NCAA confirmed it had reviewed “the corrective action plans that were developed and implemented to address the non-compliance and non-conformances identified by the audit (Level 1 findings) and found them satisfactory. In view of the above, the authority hereby lifts the suspension of Parts A3 and D43 of the operations specifications issued to Azman Air with regards to the operations of the B737 aircraft type.”
The duration of the suspension was not without scandal after Azman Air was forced to publically apologize to the NCAA's director-general, Musa Nuhu, after airline staff, in an official airline press release, levelled allegations of "unprofessionalism and extortion" against him. Azman management subsequently repudiated the statement and expressed its regret to Nuhu and the NCAA.
Azman Air, in a separate statement, confirmed the lifting of the suspension, adding it would resume operations soon. It remained “committed to raising the standard when it comes to the safety of crew, equipment, and passengers,” the airline said.
The NCAA on March 15, 2021, had suspended the operation of Asman's fleet of two B737-300s and four B737-500s. As previously reported, this followed an incident involving Azman's B737-500 5N-SYS (msn 28565) leased from GECAS, which had experienced a burst tyre on landing at Lagos in February. Although no one was injured, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigeria had rated the incident as serious.
Azman partly owns and partly leases its B737 fleet. One B737-300 as well as the B737-500 are leased from GECAS, with another B737-500 leased from Standard Chartered Aviation Finance.