Airline operators petition Aviation Minister over 15-yr age limit for aircraft (Cutting corners again?)Aviation, Headlines Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
By Kenneth Ehigiator
LAGOS—Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, has petitioned the Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, over the recent 15-year age limit set for aircraft operating in the country.
It also urged the minister to suspend the continued grounding of Dana Airlines, ADC, Sosoliso and Bellview Airlines to enable them resume flight operations.
The group’s petition came against the backdrop of the new age limit for aircraft operating in Africa set at the just-concluded aviation conference in Abuja, which played host to aviation ministers and other stakeholders on the continent.
The new age limit vacates the 22 years limit set by former Aviation Minister, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, aftermath of EAS crash in Kano, which claimed about 100 lives, including those on ground.
AON, in the petition by Secretary General, Capt. Mohammed Joji, said there was no co-relation between the age of aircraft and safety, contending that much of air accidents were caused by human rather than machine errors.
It stated: “There is no correlation between safety and the age of an aircraft. The decisions to retire aircraft are basically economic. Ageing aircraft require more frequent maintenance than new aircraft and this is undertaken outside Nigeria on annual basis in accordance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARS, under the supervision of NCAA.
“A well-maintained old aircraft is better than a poorly maintained new aircraft. New aircraft are often purchased to add capacity to the existing fleet not to immediately replace existing fleet.
“Imposing a 22-year ban on aircraft is not consistence with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices. It is one of the draconian policy decisions taken without recourse to the actual industry practice.
“It’s natural for a ‘lay man’ to equate the so-called old aircraft to ‘Tokunbo’, ‘Molue’ and ‘Danfo’. Just as there are aging aircraft, there are also aging or obsolete facilities and aging personnel.
“Pilot, been most critical factor in the aviation industry whose age limit has been extended from 60 to 65 years in accordance with; (a) Pilot age group (JAR FCL 1.060 Licensing (b) Amendment 167 to ICAO Annex 1 dated 25th November, 2006 implies that age should not be a limiting factor for a well- maintained aircraft. IATA is currently working on 70 years provided the pilot is fit.”
AON also appealed to the minister to allow Dana Airlines and other airlines that had been involved in accidents, including ADC, Sosoliso and Bellview, resume operations, arguing that their suspensions were contrary to global practices.
According to the group, the continued closure of Dana Airlines has rendered its over 500 staff jobless, even as the airline still incurred salary liabilities of over N90 million monthly.
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