We suspended Azman Air to avoid national disaster –NCAA
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has criticised Azman Air, following the discovery of a series of serious incidents and numerous unprofessional conduct which led to its suspension.
This was contained in a statement issued by Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, in Lagos, on Friday, March 19.
Adurogboye stated that the NCAA was constrained to issue the statement so as to keep the records straight and disabuse the minds of the public that the action it took was anything other than for safety reasons.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that the NCAA had, on Tuesday, suspended flight operations by Azman Air with immediate effect, over a series of incidents involving its Boeing 737 aircraft.
Adurogboye explained that the suspended airline had at least three serious incidents, including burst tyres, within the past six weeks, such that the NCAA could not continue to allow such unprofessional conduct to persist without taking decisive action.
The general manager said the alarming trend of tyre failures, in combination with improper tyre maintenance procedures by the airline, were a clear and strong indication of an accident chain formation in its final stages at Azman Air.
He further explained that there was an urgent need to break the accident chain, before a completely avoidable national tragedy occurred, adding that it would not allow avoidable accidents to happen in the sector, due to the airline’s persistent professional misconduct.
“Over a period of about six weeks, Azman Air Boeing 737 aircraft, operating scheduled passenger flights, were involved in three separate incidents, resulting in damage to the aircraft, in each case, but with no loss of life, for which it was grateful to God.
“During a routine ramp inspection on Feb 10, at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, NCAA inspectors found an Azman Air maintenance engineer carrying out replacement of the right-hand main landing gear wheel assembly.
“The aircraft (nos. 3 and 4) of their Boeing 737-500 aircraft, with registration 5N-SYS, were being maintained without referring to the manufacturer’s maintenance manual.
“This is a violation of Civil Aviation regulations, for which both Azman Air and the engineer were sanctioned, but are yet to pay the fine.
“On Feb. 11, Azman Air flight AZM 2318 operated with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, which departed Kaduna for Lagos.
“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 chose to continue the flight to Lagos.
“Upon arrival in Lagos, the Captain failed to make entry in the aircraft technical logbook, of the incident
”Azman Air maintenance team on ground in Lagos were notified of the detached part and carried out an inspection, which identified the missing part as the no 3 Main Landing Gear (MLG) heatshield.
“However, 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,” he said.
Adurogboye said NCAA inspectors in Abuja were notified and promptly grounded the aircraft, until the defect was rectified, before releasing the aircraft for flight resumption operations, adding that an Investigation letter was issued to it as investigations were ongoing.
He said that on Feb. 16, exactly five days after the incident, when the previous incident was still under investigation, Azman flight AZM 2325, with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, suffered a burst tyre.
Adurogboye said a comprehensive audit of Azman Air would be conducted in the areas of operations, airworthiness, training, licensing, financial health, and any other area, determined to be necessary during the exercise.
The general manager said an audit team of inspectors had been constituted to determine the root causes of the incidents, and recommend actions needed to forestall recurrence.