Federal Government berates Agency over Failure to Implement Safety Recommendations.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it has intensified surveillance on operating airlines, following recent minor and major incidents recorded in the country in recent times.
The agency’s Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman made this known Wednesday in an interview with aviation journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos. He disclosed that the agency’s inspectors now monitor the activities of the airlines, especially at the ramp areas, stating that it would continue to sustain and improve on the current safety level in the industry.
Usman said the agency has learnt from the recent major and minor incidents that occurred in the country’s aviation industry within the year, stressing that lessons learnt from the incidents would be put to use to prevent major calamities from happening in the industry.
He pointed out that the year 2018 had been turbulent in the global aviation industry generally with incidents and accidents, but assured that the regulatory agency in Nigeria would sustain and improve on the safety level in the past years while the safety recommendations of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) would be followed to the letter in order to improve safety in the system.
He pledged that the NCAA would continue to adhere strictly to the eight critical elements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in order to prevent an accident from happening in the system, even as he stated that the NCAA had consistently carried out safety oversight functions of operating airlines in the country.
The NCAA, he further assured, would not rest on its oars, but would continue to beam its searchlight on all operators in order to prevent a possible disaster.
“So, we take note of those incidences that have happened, we are going to learn from those incidences to ensure that we don’t have any unforeseen accident. So, we are intensifying our surveillance especially the ramping aspect of it; checking, rechecking, training, re-training, inspections as much as possible to ensure that whatever happens is in the past.
“Let me say that the year 2018 started with so many incidences and even accidents worldwide. Unfortunately, even though we have some incidences here, none has resulted to any fatality or any serious injury. Of course, when you have occurrences, incidences, they are to give you an early warning probably of something more to come if you don’t do anything.
Failure to Implement Safety Recommendations
The federal government has blamed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the recent flight incidents in the country. The agency, according to sources, does not implement safety recommendations from the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Inside source told THISDAY that if the safety recommendations were implemented some of the incidents that happened could have been averted.
Since this year, there have been major and minor incidents that included the falling off of emergency door of Dana Air flight, the overshooting of the runway by another Dana Air flight at the Port Harcourt airport, Delta Air Line Flight 55, which made air return seven minutes after takeoff from the Lagos airport to Atlanta, US. One of the airline’s aircraft engines caught fire due to what was now known as ‘crack’ in one of the nozzles inside the engine.
There was also the incident when smoke enveloped the cabin of Arik Air flight while it was airborne from Lagos to Accra, Ghana, 35 minutes into the flight among other incidents involving commercial airlines.
THISDAY learnt that in chiding NCAA, the Ministry of Transportation decided to set up a committee to look at all the safety recommendations from AIB, which came as a result of accident investigation to ascertain whether they had been implemented.
The Commissioner of AIB, Akin Olateru said at a media briefing on Wednesday that out of 27 accidents reports, which his management inherited, it has completed 10 investigations and made the report public. Consequently, he said that the Bureau came up with 35 safety recommendations. He also disclosed that since inception in 2007, AIB has made 120 safety recommendations from accident investigations and reports.
Although during the briefing, Olateru did not link the setting up of the committee to the recent incidents, inside source told THISDAY that it was to stem aircraft incidents and possible accidents that the committee was set up to review the recommendations and to ensure that they were implemented by the NCAA.
“When we investigate accidents and incidents, we come up with safety recommendations to prevent future occurrence. Out of the 10 investigations we have put out, we came up with 35 safety recommendations to prevent future occurrence of similar incident or accident,” Olateru said.
The Commissioner also remarked that the responsibility of AIB is to investigate accidents and incidents and make safety recommendations, while it is the responsibility of NCAA to implement those recommendations.
Olateru however did not dismiss the fact that the incidents of recent weeks might have led to the setting up of the review committee but noted that it was an appraisal to enhance safety in the nation’s airspace.
“In his wisdom the Hon. Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika approved to set up a committee to look through 120 safety recommendations; some targeted the NCAA, some were targeted at the airlines, some to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA, some to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), some to aircraft manufacturers and some to engine manufacturers as well to see the effectiveness of all these safety recommendations,” Olateru said.
THISDAY learnt that the incidents of the past weeks unsettled the industry, prompting air travellers to seek alternative means of transport, a development that has reduced air passenger traffic, especially on domestic routes.
However, Olateru had dismissed the fears and said that many of the incidents also happen in other countries, even advanced nation where flight operations are very high and accused the media of blowing incidents out of proportion and frightening the flying public.
He said that the review of the safety recommendations is important because it would help to entrench safety.
“Maybe yes or no the events of the recent past may have led to this, but it is still not too late as far as I am concerned. It is a way of evaluating. This is not enforcement but this will enhance NCAA’s job, as an enforcer and AIB job as recommender. This is self-auditing for NCAA and this is a high powered committee and this committee will be reported to the Minister of State, Aviation,” Olateru also said.
However, THISDAY learnt that NCAA has reinforced its oversight functions since those incidents happened and has commenced auditing of some of the airlines.
- With reports from Thisday