Capt. Muhtar Usman, Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) says the agency would be more stringent and meticulous in its oversight of airlines and service providers to sustain the zero-accident feat of the industry.
Nigeria once again recorded a safe aviation industry in 2018, how do you intend to consolidate on this in 2019?
I want to thank the airlines, service providers, stakeholders and everyone in the industry for the improvement recorded in the past years. It is team work. We have crossed this line and the next level is to consolidate on our successes and do more of the things that we did before and even more so that we can have only little incidences.
That is our expectation this year and we expect the same level of cooperation from all stakeholders to continue to sustain the level of safety in the industry.
The United States Transport Security Administration (TSA) team was recently in Nigeria for audit of the industry, what really was the fulcrum of the audit?
Let me say that the Transport Security Administration (TSA) of the United States (US) is responsible for aviation security in the US. They normally go out and assess all other airports outside the US that have direct air link to US. So, it is a normal process. This is not the first time this is happening. We do it once or twice a year. It also helps us to check our own level of preparedness on security and also ensures we meet international best standards.
Almost all the time when they come, they are always satisfied and we believe that even this time around, they will be satisfied. We will be open to observations from them and where we need to improve, we will certainly implement their safety recommendations.
Also, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is being expected any moment from now. What informed the frequent audit of the industry?
ICAO assessment has gone from the usual audit to Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA). It is a continuous process. Anytime you are assessed, whatever findings that are made, the shortcomings are normally addressed through the Corrective Action Plan. Once implemented, the file is closed. Nigeria obviously is preparing and we are ever ready to be assessed by ICAO.
We don’t just prepare because audit is coming, but because we believe security challenges are dynamic and so also, we have to be proactive to address whatever security challenges that may happen. There is possibility of non-conventional security challenges. However, we don’t have any specific date for the coming of ICAO team into Nigeria yet, but we know the team will come this year.
The agency recently sanctioned some airlines and individuals in the sector, but their identities were concealed, what informed this action?
It is not part of the rules in the global aviation industry not to mention names of organisations that are being sanctioned by Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs), but we have to know that the aim of sanction is not to bring down any operator or service provider, but it’s to ensure compliance with the civil aviation regulation of which all stakeholders were brought in to make their inputs before being made into law.
The NCAA is a custodian of these regulations to ensure enforcement of these regulations. It is in the interest of the operator and that of the general public. So, we are not hiding any name because we want to hide it, but what is very important is that as part of the critical elements, by the aid of ICAO, we are expected to resolve safety concerns and we do that sometimes with enforcement, sanctions and warning, depending on what happened.