By EZEKIEL OBI, Abuja –
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has taken a decisive step by formally petitioning the Nigeria Police Force against Max Air, citing grave concerns over the endangerment of lives due to reported safety violations.
This move comes in the wake of Max Air’s purported presentation of altered records to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and its alleged engagement of unauthorized engineers in aircraft servicing.
It would be recalled that the disturbing revelations stem from a report published by The Whistle, an online news platform, dated August 12, 2023. This report outlined the suspension faced by Max Air at the hands of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The suspension was a direct consequence of a harrowing incident that occurred on May 7, 2023, involving a Max Air aircraft crash-landing at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. This incident imperiled the lives of more than 143 passengers on board.
In a formal petition signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, addressed to the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Kayode Egbetokun, HEDA detailed the findings of the NCAA audit, which was conducted between July 17, 2023, and July 20, 2023.
The audit exposed a litany of safety deficiencies within Max Air’s operations, ultimately resulting in a second suspension. HEDA therefore unequivocally calls for a thorough and exhaustive investigation into these allegations, as well as appropriate legal actions against the management of Max Air Ltd.
The comprehensive 11-page audit report and accompanying correspondences revealed a staggering 27 critical safety issues observed within the airline’s fleet under scrutiny. These issues encompassed a wide range of concerns, including but not limited to: Alleged submission of altered records to the NCAA, coupled with the failure to replace life-limited components in accordance with regulations, and absence of substantial evidence to defend the airworthiness of recently installed landing gears on one of Max Air’s aircraft.
Other breaches are: documentation of incorrect maintenance practices, notably following a birdstrike incident; the engagement of unauthorized engineers in performing maintenance tasks; neglect of mandatory duplicate inspections following pivotal tasks; ineffective management of Airworthiness Directives for the entire fleet; shortcomings in the qualifications of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) personnel; and non-compliance with established procedures for ensuring the efficacy of the Aircraft Maintenance Program.
Suraju emphasized the gravity of these findings, stating, “These serious findings highlight a pattern of disregard for safety regulations and standards by Max Air, putting the lives of air travelers at risk. HEDA strongly urges the Nigeria Police to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the contents of the NCAA audit report and to take decisive legal action against the management of Max Air Ltd.”
The civil society organization underscores the importance of sending a resounding message that Nigeria upholds the rule of law, where every individual and entity, regardless of their societal status, is held accountable for their actions. HEDA anticipates a swift and equitable response to this urgent petition.