Archive | February 2013

Seven airlines apply for an AOC

According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), seven new airlines have applied for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). Among the applicants are several current charter operators: Prime Air, Gyro Air, EasyJet, Air Taraba, as well as the newcomers Azman Air and Hak Air. The last unidentified start-up airline is called EAS – also the name of a defunct carrier, which could stand for Empire Aviation Services.

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Discovery Air to operate B737s and CRJ200s

Lagos-based start-up airline Discovery Air intends to launch commercial flight services with a fleet of B737-300s and CRJ-200s. The airline plans to serve several domestic and regional destinations from Lagos Airport, but no date has been given yet for the start of operations (likely to Abuja and Port Harcourt). The new airline is part of the First Deepwater Discovery group of companies, led by Babatunde Babalola.

Overland launches new Abuja-Akure service

Overland Airways introduced a new six-weekly flight service between Abuja and Akure, the capital of Ondo State. Schedule:

  • OJ1198 Abuja-Akure 09:45-10:45 (Weekdays)
  • OJ1199 Akure-Abuja 11:15-12:15 (Weekdays)
  • OJ1198 Abuja-Akure 12:00-13:00 (Sundays)
  • OJ1199 Akure-Abuja 13:30-14:30 (Sundays)

Akure Airport was left without any scheduled commercial flights, after Arik Air and Associated Aviation abandoned the airport last year.

MRO hangar at Uyo Airport

The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom, is nearing its completion. On request of the State Government, the Federal Government pledged support for the project, and the facility will become a national hangar. However, a nice and large hangar does not necessarily mean that the technical knowledge and man power will be available to run the facility and provide high-quality maintenance services. Who will become responsible for operating the facility and provide maintenance services? Will domestic and foreign airlines be interested in using the facility? Recently, the NCAA stated that there is a need for a major maintenance hangar at Lagos. The major airlines, Arik Air and Aero, already have their own facilities in place, while new hangars have been built at Lagos for private and corporate jet owners, which already harbour a number of Approved Maintenance Organisations (AMO). For unknown reasons, the authorities are reluctant to allow the construction of private hangars at Abuja Airport, meaning that all but the presidential jets are always exposed to outside weather conditions.

MRO hangar at Uyo Airport, with Akwa Ibom State's G450 parked in front

MRO hangar at Uyo Airport, with Akwa Ibom State’s G450 parked in front

This week’s update

Brief updates:

  • The Central Bank of Nigeria is delaying the acquisition of 30 aircraft for domestic airlines, according to the Minister of Aviation.
  • Apparently, the interior of Asaba Airport is yet to be completed two years after the airport was commissioned; the airport is also not yet certified by FAAN. The Delta State Government plans to concession the airport as soon as it is completed.
  • The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has validated the Bell 429 for operation in the country. NEMA recently received its first helicopter (5N-NEM) of this type.
  • The NCAA repeated its order to all airlines to install an Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) on their aircraft.
  • Nigeria risks losing its FAA Category 1 status, as the Ministry of Aviation is attempting to review the autonomy of the NCAA.

First picture of Aero’s Dash 8-Q400

Aero’s first Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 (5N-BPU; ex-G-JEDO) emerged from the paint shop in Norwich. The ten year-old aircraft was previously operated by Flybe. Aero already operates a fixed-wing fleet of six B737-400s, six B737-500s and a single Dash 8-Q300.

Aero - Dash 8-Q400 - 5N-BPU (copyright FlyingAnts)

Aero – Dash 8-Q400 – 5N-BPU (copyright FlyingAnts)

FAAN loses suit against Bi-Courtney about Lagos GA Terminal

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) experienced a major setback in its legal battle with Bi-Courtney, the company operating MMA Terminal 2, about the ownership of/right of operation from the General Aviation Terminal at Lagos Airport. The High Court in Abuja ruled that

They [FAAN] are therefore restrained, prevented or prohibited from operating scheduled flights in and out of Lagos State from any airport terminal other than MMA2 or an airport terminal owned/operated by the plaintiff [Bi-Courtney] during the concession period as stipulated in the Agreement.

Bi-Courtney said it is ready to take over the recently renovated General Aviation Terminal from FAAN, since GAT ‘was declared an integral part of the MMA2 concession by the decision of the Federal High Court in 2009’.

Initially, FAAN’s spokesman said he was not aware of the ruling, but the agency later stated that the court order referred to is not existent and that FAAN will continue to run the domestic GA Terminal (now called Domestic Terminal 1) at Lagos.

Meanwhile, FAAN announced that the renovated terminal at Benin Airport will be ready for commissioning soon, the terminals at Enugu and Port Harcourt will follow later. The Port Harcourt project is handled by Inter-Bau Construction.

Port Harcourt Airport Terminal

Port Harcourt Airport Terminal

AIB releases eight accident reports

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released eight new accident report, including the final reports on the:

  • Bellview Airlines B737-200 (5N-BFN) crash in 2005:

The AIB, after an extensive investigation, could not identify conclusive evidence to explain the cause of the accident involving Bellview Flight 210.The investigation considered several factors that could explain the accident. They include the PIC training of the Captain before taking Command on the B737 aircraft which was inadequate, the cumulative flight hours of the pilot in the days before the accident which was indicative of excessive workload that could lead to fatigue.Furthermore, the investigation revealed that the airplane had technical defects. The airplane should not have been dispatched for either the accident flight or earlier flights.The absence of forensic evidence prevented the determination of the captain’s medical condition at the time of the accident. The missing flight recorders to reconstruct the flight also precluded the determination of his performance during the flight. Due to lack of evidence, the investigation could not determine the effect, if any, of the atmospheric disturbances on the airplane or the flight crew’s ability to maintain continued flight.

  • ADC Airlines B737-200 (5N-BFK) crash in 2006:

The pilot’s decision to take-off in known adverse weather conditions and failure to execute the proper windshear recovery procedure resulted in operating the aircraft outside the safe flight regime, causing the aircraft to stall very close to the ground from which recovery was not possible.

Update: Bellview Airlines disagrees with the findings of the AIB, according to the airline, in a statement, the ‘doctored report is geared to make Bellview the scapegoat with the ulterior motive of abandoning further investigation to find the true cause of the accident’.

Osun State leases helicopter from OAS

The Osun State Government has leased the AS-355N Ecureuil 2 (5N-BPX) recently acquired by OAS Helicopters. Officially, the helicopter will be deployed for aerial surveillance by the state’s police and for medical emergencies. But, as in the case of Rivers State and Lagos State, the helicopter will most likely be used for VIP transport and charter services.

Osun State / OAS Helicopters - AS-355N Ecureuil 2 - (5N-BPX)

Osun State / OAS Helicopters – AS-355N Ecureuil 2 – (5N-BPX)

This week’s update

Short updates:

  • The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) recorded 14,3 million air travellers in 2012, according to a press release. This is a decrease of four per cent in passengers compared to 2011, although the numbers given in the statement conflict with those on FAAN’s website.
  • The Federal Government has implemented a duty waiver for the import of aircraft and spare parts. Foreign registered aircraft based in Nigeria are excluded from the waiver.
  • TopBrass Aviation took delivery of its third Dash 8-Q300 (5N-TBA) last week, meanwhile another aircraft of the same airline (5N-TBB) was spotted at Maastricht for maintenance.
  • Reportedly, Aero will soon accept its first Dash 8-Q400 (5N-???; ex-G-JEDO), which was ferried to Norwich for painting. One of Aero’s B737-400s (5N-BJA) is currently at Bournemouth for a new coat of paint.
  • Overland Airways apparently accepted its second ATR 72-200 (5N-BPF; ex-F-WNUF). A third ATR 72 is being prepared for the airline at Toulouse. Meanwhile, Overland is recruiting pilots and mechanics for B737NG aircraft, meaning that the B737-800 (EI-EZB) may join its fleet after all.
  • Dana Air added a fifth return flight between Lagos and Abuja on weekdays. The airline intends to re-start services to Port Harcourt before the end of February 2012.
  • A Nigerian official blamed a pilot error for last year’s Dana Air crash, even though the official report is yet to be published.
  • Cross River State announced that Bebi Airstrip, serving Obudu Mountain Resort, will get a regular commercial service in March 2013. The state government acquired an aircraft – probably the Dash 8-200 (5N-GRS) purchased from Rivers State, rather than the mentioned ATR 42 – to serve the airstrip.
  • Cross River State also wants the runway of Calabar Airport extended. The airport recently got the status of cargo airport.
  • A Hawker 4000 (5N-NOC) belonging to NNPC overran the runway at Warri on 6 February 2013.
  • Omni Air’s Makurdi-based Air Tractor 502 (5N-BPV).
  • Arik Air and IRS Airlines are no longer making night stops at Maiduguri for security reasons.
  • The 2003 white paper on the mismanagement of Nigeria Airways has been dug up again by local media.
  • The Nigerian Air Force has only one serviceable trainer aircraft at its Kaduna Base. Three Do 228s will be refurbished.
  • The company responsible for the dismantling of derelict aircraft (video) in Nigeria paid N800,000 for each aircraft.
  • The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is set to improve the nation’s radar control. However, pilots dispute the claim that the TRACON project resulted in a complete radar coverage of the Nigerian airspace.
Bebi Airstrip

Bebi Airstrip

Nigerian carriers sign deal with GMF AeroAsia

Kabo Air, MaxAir, Hak Air and an unknown carrier called Service Air have signed a $60 million maintenance contract with GMF AeroAsia. The Indonesian company will service the aging fleet of the Nigerian airlines. The four B737-400s acquired by start-up airline Hak Air are 19 years old, while the age of Kabo Air and MaxAir’s B747s ranges between 21 and 26 years.

JedAir to lease Bombardier turboprops

JedAir (formerly known as charter operator Wings Aviation) signed a joint venture agreement with Voyageur Airways. The Canadian company will provide JedAir with Bombardier Dash 8-Q300/400s and maintain the aircraft, which will be operated and crewed by the Nigerian airline. JedAir plans to start commercial scheduled operations in Nigeria and West-Africa later this year; the airline currently operates one B737-200 freighter (5N-BMS).

Gambia Bird to serve Lagos from April 2013

Gambia Bird is planning to start a four-weekly flights from Banjul to Lagos in April 2013. However, it’s not clear whether the airline already obtained permission from the Nigerian authorities to launch this service. The route will be operated with A319 equipment. Schedule:

  • 3G2256 Banjul-Lagos-Douala 09:40-14:40 / 15:25-16:25 (Tuesday)
  • 3G2257 Douala-Lagos-Banjul 17:10-18:10 / 18:55-21:55 (Tuesday)
  • 3G1420 Banjul-Freetown-Monrovia-Lagos 07:30-09:00 / 10:30-11:35 / 12:20-15:50 (Thursday)
  • 3G1421 Lagos-Monrovia-Freetown-Banjul 16:50-18:20 / 19:05-20:10 / 20:55-22:25 (Thursday)
  • 3G1574 Banjul-Lagos 09:40-14:20 (Friday)
  • 3G1575 Lagos-Banjul 15:10-18:10 (Friday)
  • 3G1772 Banjul-Dakar-Lagos 13:00-??:?? / ??:??-18:00 (Sunday)
  • 3G1773 Lagos-Dakar-Banjul 19:00-22:30 / 23:15-00.05 (Sunday)

This week’s update

Short updates:

  • The Senate has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to recover a loan of N35.5 billion from Jimoh Ibrahim. The sum came from the Aviation Intervention Fund and was intended for Air Nigeria.
  • The Senate again asked the Federal Government to revoke Dana Air’s AOC and to fire the DG of the NCAA for negligence of duty.
  • A few images of the clearing of stored aircraft at Lagos Airport. A DHL B727F and NICON Airways B727 are the first aircraft to be dismantled.
  • FAAN announced that it will construct twelve cargo terminals across the country to boost the export of perishable goods.
  • FAAN has accepted six refurbished fire tenders. Jalingo Airport is currently the only airport in Nigeria without a fire tender.
  • Runway lighting will be installed at Enugu, Yola and Owerri, and these airports will be open for night operations from 24 March 2013 onwards.
  • The promised duty waiver on aircraft and aircraft parts is yet to be implemented by the Federal Government.
  • Ticket prices have dropped on domestic routes in the recent weeks, because of increased supply.
  • Arik Air quit its Abuja-Katsina route.
  • Arik Air issued a RFP to finance four Bombardier jets.
  • ExecuJet Nigeria in Lagos has been named a Line Maintenance Facility (LMF) for Bombardier business jets.
  • VistaJet asked the support of the Federal Government to expand its activities in Nigeria. Apparently, the charter airline currently operates on the AOC of SkyPower Express.

An inspection of some of the refurbished fire tenders (copyright The Nation)