Wednesday, November 24, 2021

AZMAN’s woes worsen as NCAA audit report shows airline’s gross safety violations, exceedances

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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Grounded AZMAN Air’s predicaments appear to be many as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA’s audit report opened a Pandora’s box on the airline’s pervasive inadequacies.

The airline was suspended on March 15, following three incidents recorded in quick successions.

The audit covered Management, Flight Operations, Maintenance and Economic areas, based on the criteria set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs Part 9, NCARS Part 1, 2, 5, 6, 8,9 & 20 and Nigeria Civil Aviation Act 2006 NCARS Part 18.

In a 19-page audit report signed by the Director General, Captain Nuhu Musa on April 2, 2021, the airline failed the regulator’s test in the four key areas of management, flight operations, maintenance and economic.

The audit discovered that in the area of management personnel required for Commercial Air transport Operations, Azman Air was found not to be in compliance with the provisions of Nig.CARs 9.2.2.2 (a) and (e) (2) with regards to provision of resources and discharge of the duties of the Accountable Manager.

According to the audit report, this is evidenced by complete non­-staffing of the Safety Management Department and staffing of the Quality Management Department with only one officer, thereby making it impossible to effectively implement Safety and Quality Management Systems functions as required by Nig.CARs 9.2.2.3 and 9.2.2.10, respectively.

The report also discovered that the Accountable Manager of the airline exhibited a lack of understanding of his duties and responsibilities as contained in the Operations Manuals. This is further evidenced by lack of evidence of the Accountable Manager’s involvement in Management Reviews of Quality Audit Findings.

Azman was found also not to be in compliance with the provisions of Nig.CARs 9.2.2.2 (e) (2) with regards to discharge of the duties of the Director of Flight Operations, thereby unable to maintain safe commercial flight operations:

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“This is evidenced by the fact that FDR analysis on the B737 (eg 5N-SYS) revealed a number of exceedances and the DFO could not show any evidence of actions taken to check the trend.

“This is further evidenced by lack of demonstration of knowledge of the Nig. CARs related to Flight Data Analysis and Flight Operations Management in general. Thirdly, this is evidenced by lack of safety officer(s) in the flight operations department to support the Flight Data Analysis Programme (Nig.CARs 9.2.2.11).

According to the audit report, the DFO exhibited a lack of understanding of his duties and responsibilities as contained in the Operations Manuals. Fourthly, there is evidence of   poor safety culture promoted by absence of evidence of concrete action on clear safety violations by flight crew, eg, failure to make required entries in the technical log.

Azman was also found not to be in compliance with the provisions of Nig.CARs 9.2.2.2 (e) (2) and (3)(i) with regards to discharge of the duties of the Chief Pilot, thereby unable to maintain safe commercial flight operations:

“This is evidenced by the fact that the Chief Pilot did not know that some of his pilots were overdue for SMS, CRM training, etc, and were not making technical log entries and signing voyage reports as required by Nig.CARs 8.5.1.19.”

The Chief Pilot exhibited a lack of understanding of his duties and responsibilities as contained in the Operations Manuals.

The airline was found not to be in compliance with the provisions of Nig.CARs 9.2.2.2 (e) (2) with regards to discharge of the duties of the Director of Maintenance to maintain safe commercial flight operations, evidenced by the fact that the Director of Maintenance, who was granted a temporary acceptance by the Authority to act in this capacity for six(6) months (expiring on 22nd March, 2021) demonstrated complete lack of knowledge of Nig.CARs and approved Maintenance Control Manual procedures and therefore Azman Air ceased to have a DOM after 22nd March, 2021.

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The DOM also failed to ensure that approved Maintenance Control Manual Procedures are effectively implemented which led to numerous safety critical non-conformities including lack of access to maintenance data by the engineers in Abuja; lack of effective tool control (eg use of bogus pressure gauge with incorrect calibration certificate in Abuja)

Also ineffective monitoring of tire wear; overdue engineers training in Human Factors; outdated B737 Approved Maintenance Programme; duty time limitation exceedance; ineffective monitoring of maintenance by the DOM as he is located in Kano instead of the approved maintenance base in Lagos

Azman Air Ltd was found not to be in compliance with the Nig.CARs 9.3.1.2, with respect to provision of current Operations Manual to officers involved in operational control. This is evidenced by Azman’s inability to provide a current copy of the Company’s Emergency Response Plan (this is a repeat finding) as required by Nig.CAR 9.3.1.2(g)(7).

Azman was found not to be in compliance with Nig.CAR 9.2.2.11 regarding Flight Safety Programme. This is evidenced by the fact that, though, Azman Air has a robust flight data monitoring system arrangement with Flight Technics, who constantly furnish Azman Air with flight data reports, these reports stop at reception with no further actions to address unsafe issues captured.

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The airline was found not to be in compliance with the provisions of Nig.CARs 9.2.2.10 and 20.3.1.1, relating to Safety Management System establishment.

This is evidenced by lack of a Safety Manager or Safety Officers to run the Safety Management System. Lack of this has also resulted in poor management of Flight Data Monitoring Reports for safety improvements.

The report also stated that Azman Air Ltd was found to be in violation of Nig.CARs 18.10.3 regarding the submission of monthly financial health reports to the NCAA.

“This is evidenced in Azman Air’s failure to meet up with the monthly obligation in submitting the required financial health report for months despite several reminders. Last submission was in July, 2020. During this audit, Azman submitted reports for December, 2020 and January 2021,” the report said.

Azman Air Ltd was also found to be in violation of Section 12 (1) of Civil Aviation Act, 2006 as regards to non remittance of 5% TSC/CSC. This is evidenced by the airline being indebted to the Authority to the tune of One billion Five Hundred and Forty Five million, Two hundred and Sixty Two thousand One hundred and Twenty naira, Thirty One kobo (N1,545,262,120.31) as at December, 2020.

Azman Air was therefore found to be in violation of Nig.CARs 18.12.6 as regards to signing an agreement with the Authority for direct debit. This is evidenced by delay in signing of the Direct Debit Tripartite Agreement with NCAA.

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