By LAWANI MIKAIRU
…Says call for DG”s sack misplaced
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has reacted to last Wednesday call by the House of Representative for the revocation of Dana Airline operating licence and sack of the Director General of NCAA. The regulatory authority has come out to say the entire report of the House committee on Dana Airline crash is based on falsehood, fallacies and misrepresentation of facts.
The House Report alleges that the DANA Air MD 83 aircraft type has been phased out all over the world, including the United States. But NCAA said ‘’Nothing can be further from the truth. For the records these types of aircraft are still very widely in use in most countries around the world, with the largest number found among airlines in the US. We make bold to say that the MD 83 aircraft type has not been phased out worldwide, as indicated in the list of countries still using the aircraft type .Worldwide, 207 of the MD 83’s are still in use in 21 countries’’
NCAA further said there is no correlation between the age of the aircraft and airworthiness. ‘’Ryan International Airlines is flying the oldest MD83, which is 27 years, indicating that age of aircraft has little correlation with air-worthiness the youngest is 16 years. Average age of the aircraft type is 21 years.In fact, US Presidential candidate in the last Presidential election, Governor Mitt Romney uses the MD 83 manufactured in 1990, the same year the aircraft in DANA fleet was manufactured.’’
The second issue raised in the report is that the NCCA does not have any licensed aircraft Inspector type-rated on the MD 83 aircraft. ‘’ NCAA, indeed has Aviation Safety Inspectors comprising Pilots, and Air-worthiness experts who are trained on MD83 and effectively carry out day-to-day routine regulatory safety oversight on the aircraft.’’
The House Report also said Nigeria lacks Aircraft Hanger Maintenance facilities, to take charge of the maintenance of aircraft. But NCAA has said they have always been at the forefront of encouraging private investors to establish such facilities in the country. And of note is that the NCAA insists on the religious adherence to the stipulated Maintenance Programme for all airlines as contained in the Manufacturer’s Maintenance Manual (MMM) and NCAA Approved Maintenance Programme. ‘’We want to also emphasise that this mandatory Maintenance Programme is carried out at designated and NCAA Approved Maintenance Organisations (AMO) abroad for the purposes of achieving the highest standards of safety. This outside maintenance programme is carried out under the strict supervision of NCAA Safety Inspectors. So the question of the safety of aircraft operating in the nation’s airspace, in spite of the lack of AMO’s in the country is not in doubt.’’
On the report alleged incompetence on the part of the NCAA’s DG, the agency said under the leadership of the current DG, Nigeria achieved Category I Status which has also emboldened ICAO to place the responsibility of helping other African countries like Burundi, Mozambique, and Angola, amongst others on NCAA to meet ICAO Safety standards.
It also said ‘’Nigeria and NCAA, under the leadership of Dr. Demuren was about witnessing 6 years of free commercial aircraft accident with one million flights and 50 million passengers without any mishap before the unfortunate DANA crash.’’
NCAA said to date, the legitimate accident investigation authority, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is yet to finalise its reports that will reveal the cause(s) of the DANA crash. ‘’It is therefore preposterous for anybody that lacks professional expertise in aircraft Accident Investigation to reach unfounded conclusions on what and who may have been responsible for the accident.’’