The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has said that the country’s international safety rating remains positive following a recent audit by the United States Federal Aviation Authority.
The regulatory agency said the five-day exercise, carried out in August, focused on the critical elements of aviation legislation, regulation, organisation, technical staff, quality and training, technical guidance tools, licensing certification, approval, continuous surveillance and resolution of safety concerns.
The NCAA’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Sam Adurogboye, told our correspondent on Friday that Nigeria’s Category One status was not threatened, adding that the report of the audit would be ready 60 days after the audit, which was concluded on August 25.
“We still have some areas to close and that will be done within 30 days, after which they will calculate final results and send to us after 60 days of the audit.
“Stakeholders are working to make things work. In the debriefing we had with the FAA team before they left, we didn’t fail. If we had failed, we would have known before they left. Whatever we derive from the closed areas can only add to our score,” he said.
Nigeria achieved the Category 1 air safety rating from the US government under the FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment programme in 2010.
The rating means that Nigeria complies with international air safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, had said at the end of the audit that the agency remained optimistic that Nigeria would retain its Category 1 safety rating.
“As with any audit exercise, you cannot expect 100 per cent performance. We expect that within the next 30 days, we will receive a written report from the FAA on their findings. As of now, Nigeria is still in the Category 1; and so far, so good, we are optimistic about our performance,” he said.
Adurogboye also stated that there were no threats of ban on Nigerian carriers from entering the US airspace, adding that the FAA’s audit was only on the activities of the agency.
He said, “The FAA has nothing to do with airport certification. It is not one of the items they looked at; they did not go to the airports.
“It is the American Transport Safety Administration that audits airports not the FAA and it is done once in a year at airports where their airlines fly to. Nigeria has never failed in any of the annual audits, and we have no reason to fail which is why we still have the US airlines operating here.”
He said the FAA team only visited the maintenance organisation of Med-View Airline as a reference operator for the exercise.
The spokesperson for Med-View Airline, Obuke Oyibotha, said the airline’s operations were used as part of the criteria to audit the NCAA, adding that the airline passed the audit.
“The FAA does not relate with airlines; they relate with the regulator. If they want to do anything, it is the NCAA that will be downgraded and that is when airlines can be affected. But if a country has attained the Category One status, it cannot be downgraded just like that because a lot goes into attaining that status,” he said.
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