•US team to unveil outcome 60 days after audit •NCAA to file corrective action to FAA
As Nigeria awaits the official verdict of its Category One safety re- validation from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) will, in the next 30 days, submit its corrective action report to the body, The Nation gathered at the weekend.
The corrective action report to FAA, according to investigations will contain rectification of lapses identified by the US FAA during its one week audit of Nigerian civil aviation regulations.
Though Nigeria scored high in the audit in many areas, investigations revealed that the US team sought an improvement by the NCAA in the key segment of the technical and safety examination.
Nigeria got Category One in 2010, and was subjected to revalidation in 2014 and 2017.
According to global aviation requirements, the FAA is expected to officially make its findings public 60 days after the conclusion of any technical safety audit.
The time lap is required for affected countries to rectify deficiencies found on its civil aviation regulatory standards, practices and procedure.
Last month’s visit of a four man team from the FAA, was the second by the American civil aviation regulator to Nigeria to reaffirm consistency with standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The FAA four man team led by Louis Avez (Team Leader) International Technical Support, Benjamin Garrido-Frontline Manager, Airworthiness, Africa, Carribean, Middle East, South America, William Amos-Aviation Safety Inspector and LP Vanstory -Manager, International Affairs Branch, was in Nigeria between August 21 and 25, 2017 for the five day International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) of Nigeria’s aviation sector.
During the audit, the FAA officials examined Nigeria’s aviation law, regulations and oversight capability in accordance with the eight critical elements as defined in International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) document 9734.
The FAA team carried out audit on Nigerian civil aviation using eight critical elements; which included: on aviation legislation; regulation; organisation; technical staff, quality and training. Others are: technical guidance tools; licensing certification, approval, continuous surveillance and resolution of safety concerns.
The assessment took the FAA team to the facilities of an Airline Operators Certificate (AOC) holder – Medview Airlines, where it inspected its operations and maintenance organisations.
Confirming the development at the weekend, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye told The Nation by phone that there was no cause for anxiety over Nigeria passing the audit given the detailed corrective action taken in the last few years.
Adurogboye said Nigeria scored high in the technical audit, an indication that it has retained its Category One safety status.
He said the FAA team carried out a detailed audit on civil aviation regulations in Nigeria using the checklist guide, which requests compliance with global standards in aviation legislation; guidance material; training and personnel, and other areas.
Adurogboye said the corrective action report to be submitted by Nigeria to FAA, will not in any way lower its rating on the audit, but a formality required to close identified gaps.
He, however, clarified that the FAA audit has nothing to do with certfication of airports, as it only examines issues bordering on civil aviation regulations.
He said information suggesting that the United States will prevent some Nigerian carriers from flying into its airspace has nothing to do with the Category One safety re-validation.
Adurogboye said: “People who are saying that Nigeria will not pass Category One revalidation, have missed the point. Indeed, Nigeria has already cleared the hurdles with the performance it put up during the audit. In many areas, the Federal Aviation Administration officials were impressed at what Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has done.
“Nigeria scored very high in many areas according to the parameters or checklist used by the American team.
“Even if the FAA team found out some deficiencies in some areas, it will not reduce the scores they have allotted to Nigeria.
“I can confirm to you that in the next 45 days the FAA will make public their findings on their audit of Nigeria Category One re- validation, which we know we have passed. All that is required of the NCAA is to communicate to the FAA in the next 30 days, action so far taken on the deficiencies or gaps indentified during the audit. And exactly that the NCAA will do.”
He said the NCAA is collaborating with other aviation agencies to raise the bar on airport security.
But, some aviation experts including, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) hold the view that the United States federal aviation administration has given Nigerian airlines a 65-day ultimatum to resolve specified security issues or risk being barred from flying to its country.
Ojikutu, a member of aviation industry think tank, Aviation Round Table (ART) and Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Securities, said he is worried over retention of Category One without certification of Nigerian airports by the NCAA.
He said airport certification is compliant with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCAR) Part 12.6.4, which carries obligations on the operator to continuously maintain standards and competence in operation and ensuring availability of skilled manpower in sufficient numbers, for the periodic maintenance of the facilities and the system.
He said: “Many stakeholders would probably be asking; what is the necessity for the certification when the industry was already classified category one?”
“What many do not know, however, is that the classification of Nigeria as Category one, was meant only for the NCAA Regulations and oversight competence, the way university academic programs are rated or accredited by the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC).
“Unfortunately, the NCAA is like a university that has been long accredited but has not been able to graduate a student. The NCAA, in spite of its category one status classification in 2010 and even today in 2017 after its reclassification, has not been able to give certification to a single airport among the over 28 federal and state airports in the country.”