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Stakeholder Seeks New Timeline For Aircraft Maintenance

…As NCAA Sticks To 18 Months Mandatory Aircraft Check

A key player in the nation’s aviation sector and chairman of Air Peace is advocating for a new timeline for aircraft maintenance in the country

Anthony Awunor

Chairman of Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema has called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to revise the mandatory 18 months timeline given to airline operators to carry out C- check on all aircraft flying in the country . C- check is the third category of major maintenance carried on aircraft every 18 months whether the plane was flown or not .

It is different from line maintenance checks carried out on the aircraft either every month or after some flying hours. Onyema said that NCAA should in the place of the 18 – month maintenance adopt the 4,000 flying hours timeline obtainable in the United States. He said the US Federal Aviation Administration requires major aircraft to go for C- check after they have flown about 4,000 hours.

The airlines boss decry a situation in which an aircraft is forced by the NCAA to undergo C- check every 18 months even if the aircraft has not been flying, adding that such sep is making both scheduled and charter operators lose over hundreds of millions of dollars .

Operators, he said spend not less than $ 500,000 per aircraft anytime the plane is taken overseas for heavy maintenance. Worried over the huge capital flight, he said it was time government granted approval to some domestic carriers to set up their aircraft maintenance hangar to create jobs and enhance indigenous skills in aeronautical engineering. Such prospective players, he said should show evidence of partnership with foreign aircraft repair centres .

Speaking further, Onyema said government should initiate a deliberate policy to make land available at the airport at an affordable rate for interested domestic carriers that want to set up aircraft maintenance centre . “With an estimated 300 aircraft both charted and scheduled operating in Nigeria the industry will be losing over $ 150 million every 18months for C- check at aircraft maintenance centres overseas .

If an aircraft maintenance centre is set up in Nigeria, such huge funds Onyema would be retained to create jobs for teeming aviation professionals”, he noted . Onyema added “The NCAA regulation makes it mandatory to go for C – check every 18 months .

This is only mandatory in Nigeria that an aircraft whether you operated it or not must go for C – check. No other country in the world is doing this. This regulation is too strict. In America it is 4,000 flying hours . America is the owner of civil aviation and they are utilising the four thousand hours regulation before an aircraft can go for C- check .But, Nigerian civil aviation rules says 18 months” . “The American model is preferable because you could attain 4,000 flying hours in about two or three years . This is not good , it is a capital drain on the country . Every 18 months you have to fly your aircraft abroad for C – check . It is huge expenditure for airlines.

Imagine the number of planes in the fleet of Arik , Aero , Air Peace, Medview , AZMAN , Discovery, Overland , DANA Air, the number is huge . Every 18 months Nigeria loses several millions of dollars to other countries for aircraft maintenance. We are losing this huge sums because we do not have the infrastructure locally to carry out major repairs on aircraft”, Onyema said. “This is contrary to what obtains in other countries of the world .

In America , which is number in aviation, the 4,000 flying hours model is still the requirement for carrying out C- check .The situation is due for review, the NCAA has to something about it . It is not every part of the aircraft that would be due for change . “On every C- check you spend not less than five hundred thousand dollars on a single airplane . If you have several aircraft , whether you fly the aircraft or not you will have to spend over N500,000.

Anytime, we take the aircraft aboard people at the maintenance centre used to laugh at Nigerian operators asking them why are you people wasting money . Even, the 22 years age limit on aircraft is no more fashionable; in America planes of over 50 years are still flying . “ It is only in a Nigeria you see things like this . No country can run aviation like this .

Nigeria must review this regulation of insisting that aircraft be taken abroad every 18 months for C- check . It is heavy financial drain on the country and I think the NCAA should consider doing something about this regulation “, the airline boss said.

He however, advised government should divest from the aviation sector as it had no business setting up a national carrier , which he described as a huge financial drain on government . “’Government should divest interest from aviation and creating the enabling environment for private sector to drive employment and the development of the industry .

A lot of people are talking about national carrier. To hell with that, there is nothing like national carrier . What we need are flag carriers . Not national carrier. As private investors, it is difficult to monitor the fraud in our organizations. There are lots of financial leakages is very many in aviation. We are private investors consistently watching our investment and yet fraudsters still break, let alone inviting government to come and run an airline , it will be a huge capital drain” . Onyema said that such step will be an avenue for people to feed fat , advising that government should not even consider that but empower flag carriers .

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