Albarka grounded, Fresh Airlines licence suspended
A source in NCAA said the sanction followed the report of a technical audit of the aircraft in the fleet of the two airlines.
The source said the audit report indicated that while Albarka Airlines failed to carry out a major maintenance of its aircraft, Fresh Air operated outside its approved schedule.
The source said, “The decision by the NCAA to ground the operations of Albarka Airlines will remain in place until the airline is able to carry out the maintenance of its aircraft.
“The Air Operating Certificate of Fresh Air is indefinitely suspended.”
The Media Assistant to the Director General of NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, confirmed that the operations of the two airlines had been grounded.
He, however, failed to give reasons for the sanction.
The Public Relations Manager of Albarka Airlines, Mr. Biodun Odunuga, confirmed the development in a telephone interview but he said that the two affected aircraft were due for C-checks on December 6, 2005.
Albarka Airlines uses Boeing 727-200 advanced and 737-244 advanced.
Fresh Air operates one Boeing 737-2B7, which carries out special assignment for other airlines whenever the need arises.
It would be recalled that shortly after the Minister of Aviation, Dr. Babalola Borishade, ordered a probe into the activities of the parastatals in the ministry, the NCAA also begun a comprehensive technical audit of the airlines in the country.
The audit, according to NCAA, was to ensure safe operations in and out of the nation’s airspace.
The authority also directed its airworthiness’ inspectors to “henceforth maintain physical presence at all the nation’s major airports to monitor aircraft movement from the first to the last departure on a daily basis.”
The audit was agreed upon at the end of a meeting presided over by the Director General of NCAA, Mr. Fidelis Onyeyiri.
The audit covers the spare parts and other components being used for aircraft maintenance; the source of the spare parts; and the storage life of the components.
Meanwhile, two experts on airworthiness and flight operations from the International Civil Aviation Organisation are in the country to support the NCAA in its safety drive.
They are Mr. Filipie Focu and Captain Roger Lambo.
The experts came under the Co-operative Development of Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Programme of the Banjul Accord Group States.
A source said the experts would operate under the Accord to assist some ECOWAS members.
The benefiting countries are Nigeria; Ghana; Gambia; Liberia; Sierra Leone; Guinea; and Cape Verde.
The PUNCH, Monday, December 05, 2005