On May 8 2016 the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued a statement prohibiting the launch of remotely piloted aircraft (known as 'drones') in the Nigerian airspace without a permit from the NCAA and the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA). The NCAA stated that the move was part of the safety guidelines issued by the regulatory agency to drone operators following their proliferation in Nigeria.

NCAA guidelines and requirements

Certification procedure

An application for grant of a permit for aerial aviation services (PAAS) must be made in writing to the director general of the NCAA. The application should be signed by a person duly authorised by the applicant and submitted on or before a date no less than six months before the expected date of use of the PAAS.

Requirements

The following requirements apply:

  • The application for the grant of a PAAS must contain the following particulars:
    • name and address of the applicant;
    • type of air services to be provided;
    • proposed operational base of the applicant;
    • details of proposed routes to be operated, where applicable;
    • the number and types of proposed aircraft to be used; and
    • the time and frequency of the services.
  • The following supporting documents are required for processing the application:
    • four copies of the certified true copy of the company's certificate of incorporation;
    • four copies of the certified true copy of:
      • the memorandum and articles of association;
      • the particulars of the directors of the company (Form CAC 7); and
      • the statement of share capital/return of allotment (Form CAC 2) with minimum paid-up share capital of N20 million; at least one member of the board of directors must be an aviation professional and the majority shareholding must be held by Nigerian(s);
    • four copies of the current tax clearance certificates of the company and each director (the originals should also be submitted for sight);
    • four copies of a detailed business plan of the operation indicating, among other things:
      • the company's vision, mission, market analysis and strategy; and
      • the company's ownership structure, personnel plan, fleet acquisition plan, financial plan including source of finance, balance sheet, break-even analysis, pro forma income projections (profit and loss statements), cash flow analysis and charter rates for passengers or cargo; and
      • other standard business plan requirements showing detailed roadmap of how the applicant intends to provide efficient services;
    • evidence of the applicant's solvency to undertake the business;
    • duly completed application forms;
    • duly completed personal history statement (PHS) forms and two passport photographs for each shareholder of the company with more than a 5% equity shareholding (the PHS forms are to be completed at the ONSA headquarters in Abuja); and
    • a N500,000 non-refundable processing fee.

Publication in Official Government Gazette

While carrying out the technical evaluation of the application the NCAA will publish the notice of application in the Official Government Gazette, the fee for which is borne by the applicant.

Security clearance

Under the guidelines, no person is authorised to operate an aircraft in Nigeria without security clearance issued by the ONSA. The NCAA forwards the applicant's completed PHS forms and other relevant documents to the ONSA for the purpose of conducting a security check. The company directors must also report to ONSA headquarters in Abuja for screening and documentation.

Validity of PAAS

A PAAS is valid for three years.

Annual use fee

On receipt of a PAAS, an annual use fee of N100,000 must be paid to the NCAA.

Additional information

On receipt of an application, the NCAA may request additional information from the applicant as necessary. The outcome of the technical evaluation of the application, accompanied by an appropriate recommendation, will be forwarded to the Air Transport Licensing Committee for consideration and approval of issuance of a licence or otherwise as soon as the security clearance or comment has been received from the ministry.

The NCAA will refuse to grant a licence if the applicant is not cleared by the State Security Services' Office. Licences not used when their three-year validity period expires will not be renewed.

Comment

The NCAA directive appears premature, as drone technology is still in its trial period. Further, the high cost and tedious process of obtaining a PAAS is bound to restrict inventors in Nigeria from experimenting with drones and possibly from harnessing their full potential.

For further information on this topic please contact Olugbenga Aduroja at George Etomi & Partners by telephone (+234 1 462 1660) or email (olugbenga.aduroja@geplaw.com). The George Etomi & Partners website can be accessed at www.geplaw.com.

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