Nigeria’s Azman Air has been given the tick of approval to fly its sole Airbus A340-600 on international flights. After a series of recent demonstration flights, Nigeria’s safety regulator cleared the plane to fly. Following a turbulent year, the approval is a welcome win for Azman Air.
Azman Air’s flawless A340-600 demonstration flights
In early 2020, Simple Flying reported Azman Air picked up a former Virgin Atlantic A340-600. The plane had flown for Virgin Atlantic since 2006 as G-VYOU. The Airbus came to Azman Air as 2-EALJ but later in 2020 was re-registered as 5N-AAM. The big Airbus was a strategic shift for Azman Air. The remainder of the airline’s fleet comprises Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft.
Azman Air planned to use the A340-600 to operate international flights. To date, the airline has stuck to flights within Nigeria. But Azman planned to get a second Airbus and was talking about flights to Dubai, Jeddah, and China. That was easier said than done, with the airline needing approval from safety regulators to start operating international flights.
According to an online post by Azman Air, Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority has approved Azman Air to operate international flights using its A340-600.
“Azman Air has been proclaimed as the Newest International Carrier in Nigerian Aviation Industry by the representatives of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority after successfully demonstrated its dexterity in the SAFE operation of Airbus A340-600 in accordance to Global Aviation Standard,” the post reads.
Nigerian airline makes a comeback following a two-month grounding
Azman Air is one of many airlines in Nigeria attempting to get some traction amid the travel downturn. The airline has been flying since 2010 but suspended its flights in March, citing a safety audit from regulators.
At the time, it was unclear what sparked the grounding. But by May, the picture was clearer. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended Azman Air in mid-March after three incidents involving the undercarriage on Azman’s Boeing 737s.
The NCAA said Azman was experiencing a significant number of undercarriage incidents. Some slack maintenance and reporting exacerbated this.
“On Monday 15th March 2021, Azman Air flight AZM 2318, operated with a Boeing 737-500 aircraft with registration 5N-YMS, departed Kaduna for Lagos,” an NCAA media statement reads in relation to one incident.
“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.
“The aircraft landed Lagos and taxied to its parking stand when ATC informed the Captain of the burst tyres as reported by the Airport Fire Service.”
But by early May, the NCAA had lifted the flight ban and Azman Air was back in business. The grounding didn’t help Amzan’s plans with its A340. The airline’s social media postings indicate it was a long road to A340 certification.
Azman Air flies multiple A340 demonstration flights
For much of June, planning was underway for a marathon demonstration flight. On June 14 the first A340 demonstration flights departed Azman Air’s Kano (KAN) base for Dakar (DKR) via Nairobi (NBO). The 12 hour flight was a success. A few days later, the A340-600 flew back to Kano on a second demonstration flight.
But the African flights were only a warm-up for the long-haul demonstration flights between Kano and Nassau (NAS) on June 23. The 13-hour non-stop flight went off without a hitch. After a three day layover in Nassau, 5N-AAM headed back to Kano on June 26. It was enough to convince the NCAA Azman Air’s A340 had the capabilities to safely fly international long-haul.
Azman Air’s A340-600 is good to go. But 2021 is a lousy year for long-haul flying. Where, and when, Azman Air decides to send it big Airbus is worth keeping an eye on.