Friday 24 May 2013

House committee report indicts Caverton Helicopters, Aviation Ministry

Aviation Nigeria

A report by the House Committee on Justice and Aviation has indicted both the Caverton Helicopters and the Ministry of Aviation.

The House Committee sat after a controversial grounding of an aircraft belonging to the Rivers State government was followed up by allegations from the aviation authorities of cases involving document falsification by Caverton Helicopters.

The 11-page committee report was jointly signed by the House Committee Chairman on Justice, Ali Ahmad, and his Aviation counterpart, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha. The House had composed the committee on April 30, 2013 to probe the grounding of the aircraft by the NCAA.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority late last month grounded a BD 700 aircraft allegedly belonging to the River State Government and thereafter accused Caverton Helicopters of falsifying permits used in its operations in Nigeria.

The committee first sat on May 14, 2013 and took testimonies from officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), the Nigeria Aviation Management Authority (NAMA), Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, as well as officials of Caverton Helicopters and the Rivers State Government.

The report, submitted by the investigating committees to the House plenary Thursday, stated that federal aviation authorities may have deliberately refused to acknowledge Rivers State’s ownership of the aircraft.

Faulting some actions of the aviation authorities, the report added: “It was unacceptable that NCAA did not detect this fact for over six months; indeed NCAA stated in a letter dated 29th April, 2013 that following the incident it undertook a due diligence of the status of the aircraft, but even then it failed to determine the issue of ownership and several others.

The committee also pointed out that investigations indicated that other airlines were also involved in operating in the country while still being un-registered bringing questions to the actions of the aviation authority.
The report stated:

“Rivers State Government operated its aircraft with expired clearance between 2nd and 26th April, 2013; but several other aircraft are suspected to be in similar situation; isolation of Rivers State Government for reprimand becomes difficult to deny.

The committee stated that its finding also indicated that Caverton Helicopters willfully misled the authorities by denying it acted on behalf of Rivers State and recommended officials of the company be prosecuted.
It also maintained that: “Caverton should be held accountable for providing information that led NCAA to ground the aircraft, contrary to provision of the law.

The report was concluded with a recommendation that the House Committee on Aviation be mandated to scrutinize the reason for rampant foreign registration of aircraft by their owners and to further investigate all private-use aircraft operating in the country.


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