The last may have not been held in the case of Azman Airlines versus the NCAA. Recent reports from both sides have left a lot of us wondering how safe the airlines truly are and if they can trust these airlines with all these coming into play. But first, we start from the beginning and scroll down.
In a letter dated 15th March 2021, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended Azman Air for safety infractions that went on for six (6) weeks cumulating with loss of aircraft gear component mid-flight and still going ahead to violate safety regulations by not grounding the aircraft.
The NCAA did what it usually does in Pursuant to Section 35 (2) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and Part 22.214.171.124 (A) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015, grounding the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet because some of the incidents were similar and the airline had a homogeneous fleet it uses on the domestic market, for now, this, however, did not go down well with the airline who wanted to be on the air.
This lead to a counter letter written by Azman Airlines stating that the NCAA suspension of its airlines was unprofessional and sought to cast doubt on the process the airline was grounded and the objectivity of the regulator and its Director-General by giving many untenable reasons why the airline was being witch-hunted by the regulator. While another letter was written in appeal to the NCAA to commence operations.
This caused the NCAA to open a fresh can of worms; reeling out Azman Air’s infractions in just about six (6) weeks and why it had to ground the airline.
The NCAA is a statement written by General Manager Public Relations Sam Adurogboye stated that during a routine ramp inspection on 10th February 2021, at Abuja Airport, NCAA inspectors found an Azman Air maintenance engineer carrying out replacement of the right-hand main landing gear wheel assembly (nos. 3 and 4) of their Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, without referring to the manufacturer’s maintenance manual
This is a violation of the Civil Aviation Regulations, for which both Azman Air and the engineer have been sanctioned but are yet to pay the fine.
He went further to state that on 11th February 2021, Azman Air flight AZM 2318 operated with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS departed Kaduna for Lagos of which during take-off, a component of the aircraft was observed to have fallen off the aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) notified the Captain, who elected to continue the flight to Lagos. Upon arrival in Lagos, the Captain failed to make an entry in the aircraft technical logbook.
The missing part was discovered to be the no 3 Main Landing Gear (MLG) heatshield and according to the regulator, the maintenance team neither made an entry in the technical logbook nor rectified the defect but released the aircraft for a scheduled passenger flight from Lagos to Abuja.
According to NCAA while investigations were ongoing Azman flight AZM 2325, with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, suffered burst tyres while landing in Lagos, with resultant severe damage to the aircraft engine and fuselage this happened exactly five days later, on 16th of February 2021.
On 15th March 2021, Azman Air flight AZM 2318, operated a Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-YMS, departed Kaduna for Lagos with burst tyres. DG instructed the NCAA Lagos office to conduct a ramp inspection of the Azman aircraft where they discovered that two severely damaged tyres had been replaced and further inspections revealed damage to a hydraulic line with resultant hydraulic leak and damage to the hydraulic reservoir.
According to the NCAA, The alarming trends of tyre failures, in combination with improper tyre maintenance procedures, are a clear and strong indication of an accident chain formation in its final stages stressing that no responsible Civil Aviation Authority will fold its arms and wait for the next incident to occur, perhaps a fatal accident, before taking action.
These incidents and the airline’s confrontational stance have elicited responses from the industry, many of which are of the opinion that aviation is marketed by safety as speed was the added advantage. Most flayed the airline calling on them to instruct themselves in communication and not drag the industry down.
Azman Air eventually reacted to the publication after a flurry of negative reviews on Sunday through their social media handles in a press statement signed by Muhammad Hadi Abdulmunaf, its Accountable Manager denying all the allegations.
The airline stated that the campaign of calumny against the NCAA DG never came from them expressing shock that it never alleged extortion from the DG as the message said.
“Our reaction to that publication is coming now because firstly, we were bemused as to why anyone would do this in the first place, and secondly, we needed to undertake an in-house investigation as to where this was coming from. Who were the architects of this falsehood? What could be the reason behind it?
” We wish to state for the avoidance of doubt that Azman Air is ready and ever willing to cooperate fully with the NCAA in its investigations of our operations as safety has remained our watchword.
“To this end we wish to disown that unfortunate publication as never coming from Azman. The authors have failed in their deliberate ploy and plot to discredit Azman Air and Capt. Musa Nuhu, the DG NCAA.”
However, this statement denying the allegations came in five days after the initial messages circulated on social media giving the falsehood time to permeate.