The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has affirmed the suspension of Azman Air, saying the airliners unprofessional conduct was an accident waiting to happen.
The NCAA also noted that suspension was as a result of the series of serious incidents and numerous unprofessional conducts the airline involved itself in recently.
The aviation regulatory agency also pointed out that the Azman airline had at least three serious incidents, including burst tyres in the past six weeks, saying a responsible Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would not continue to allow unprofessional conducts to persist without taking a decisive action.
In a statement by the Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, noted that the alarming trend of tyre failures, alongside 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 also stressed that there was an urgent need to break the accident chain before a completely avoidable national tragedy happens.
Adurogboye added that the NCAA would not allow avoidable accidents to happen in the aviation sector as a result of the several unprofessional conducts by the airline.
Meanwhile, the Director General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, also called for an emergency meeting of the Flight Standards Group of the NCAA, in a bid to discuss and take decision on the next line of action on the worrisome developments at Azman Air.
Adurogboye, in the statement further clarified that its Boeing 737 aircraft operating scheduled passenger flights were involved in three separate incidents, resulting in damage to the aircraft in each case.
The statement explained that during a routine ramp inspection on February 10, 2021, at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, NCAA inspectors found an Azman Air maintenance engineer carrying out replacement of the right-hand main landing gear wheel assembly (nos. 3 and 4) of their Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, without referring to the manufacturer’s maintenance manual.
Adurogboye, said such action was a violation of the Civil Aviation Regulations, for which Azman Air and the engineer had been sanctioned, but were yet to pay the fine.
Again, he hinted that the next day, February 11, 2021, Azman Air flight AZM 2318 operated with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, left Kaduna for Lagos.
He further buttressed that during take-off, a component of the aircraft was noticed to have fallen off the aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) notified the captain of the aircraft, who he said allegedly continued the flight to Lagos despite the notification by ATC.
Adurogboye further alleged that on arrival at the Lagos airport, the captain failed to make entry in the aircraft technical logbook.
“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.
“NCAA inspectors in Abuja were notified and promptly grounded the aircraft, until the defect was rectified, before releasing the aircraft for resumption of flight operations.
” A Letter of Investigation was issued to Azman Air, and investigations are ongoing.
“Exactly five days later, on 16th of February 2021, when the previous incident was still under investigation, Azman flight AZM 2325, with the same Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-SYS, suffered burst tyres while landing in Lagos, with resultant severe damage to the aircraft engine and fuselage,” Adurogboye said.
He maintained that on Monday, March 15, 2021, an Azman Air flight AZM 2318, operated with a B737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-YMS, left Kaduna for Lagos and the captain reported a loud bang after retracting the landing gear during take-off, but decided to proceed to Lagos as “all parameters were normal”.
Adurogboye posited that the aircraft landed in Lagos and taxied to its parking stand when ATC informed the captain of the burst tyres as reported by the Airport Fire Service.
He said the NCAA Kaduna Regional Office Manager informed the Director-General of the agency of tyre debris on the runway in Kaduna when an inspection was carried out after the departure of the Azman flight.
Adurogboye noted that the director-general, had instructed NCAA Lagos office to conduct a ramp inspection of the Azman aircraft and on reaching the aircraft, the inspectors discovered that two severely damaged tyres had been replaced and further inspections revealed damage to a hydraulic line with resultant hydraulic leak and damage to the hydraulic reservoir.
Adurogboye hinted that all these led to its Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu calling for an emergency meeting of the Flight Standards Group of the NCAA, towards discussing and deciding on the next line of action on the worrisome developments at Azman Air.
According to Adurogboye; “after deliberations, which lasted for several hours, and comprehensive evaluations of these incidents, the Director General decided to suspend Parts A3 (Aircraft Authorization) and D43 (Aircraft Listing) of the Operations Specifications (OPS SPECS) issued to Azman Air, thus suspending the operation of the entire Boeing 737 aircraft on its fleet.
“A comprehensive audit of Azman Air will be conducted in the areas of operations, airworthiness, training, licensing, financial health and any other area determined to be necessary during the exercise.
” An Audit Team of inspectors has been constituted to determine the root causes of these incidents, and recommend action plans to forestall re-occurrence”