Stories by Lawani Mikairu
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has commended the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority ,NCAA, for using in-house personnel of the agency to undertake the audit of Nigeria civil aviation normally carried out by the United States of America Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) which made Nigeria retain its Category One status.
Sirika made the commendation during the presentation of the category one certificate to him by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, Capt Usman Mukhar at the NCAA Annex in Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
According to the Minister, before the audit, there were series of requests from various consultants that they wanted to help NCAA in the audit for a fee. They claimed they were pivotal to Nigeria achieving Cat 1, in 2010. He said after hearing them out, he called DG NCAA and asked “if we needed them and he said we could do it by ourselves.” He therefore thanked DG NCAA, Capt Usman, for making Nigeria proud, emphasizing that the Category one status is very significant to the industry.
Usman while presenting the cat 1 certificate to the minister said: “in 2010, Nigeria attained category one status, in 2014, we sustained it. In 2018, we have been able to retain it. A team of auditors from the FAA had visited Nigeria for the audit of the safety status of the country’s civil aviation industry in November 2017”.
“The audit was for the Category One (Cat 1) certification that enables direct flight connections between the US and other countries”. He added that the FAA Administrator, Mr. Dan Elwell had conveyed the message of the country scaling the audit exercise to him directly.
Responding, the minister said : “I thank the DG and his team for doing us proud to retain the category one certification which has been presented to me. The travelling public might not be aware of what is being done at the NCAA but we in aviation are aware of the feat”.
“They will not see the amount of work that the NCAA does because it is not the physical infrastructure that they are used to seeing. Even some are thinking that the NCAA is the least important of the agencies, that is so far from the truth as the amount of work the NCAA puts in to ensure safety makes it the apex body.”
“Before the audit, I was inundated with requests from various consultants that they wanted to help us in the audit for a fee, I listened to them and was told they were pivotal to our achieving Cat 1, in 2010, after hearing them out, called DG NCAA and asked if we needed them and he said we could do it by ourselves.”
” What is even great is that apart from the fact we did it on our own without external help, NCAA equally did not borrow funds from any sister agency, the entire expenditure for this was done in-house and that is good.”
This re-certification status will enable Nigerian registered aircraft to continue to fly directly to the United States of America. There are eight critical elements required to be fulfilled before a country can scale the FAA audit.
The eight critical elements are: “legislation, regulations, organisations, technical staff, technical guidance tools, licensing, continuous surveillance and resolution of safety concerns”.
While in Nigeria, the FAA had carried out intensive internal aviation safety assessment of the sector and there were fears that Nigeria may not retain the status it earned in September 2010.Nigeria however, retained the status after NCAA, and other major agencies in the sector closed all the identified “open items” when the FAA team visited Nigeria in August, 2017 to lodge complaints of some lapses in its regulatory oversight function.