By Lawani Mikairu
Recently, the International Air Transport Association, IATA, presented the third IATA Operational Safety Audit, an IOSA certificate to Air Peace airline.
This is coming barely four years into the airline’s operation. While presenting the IOSA certificate to the airline, the Head of Account Management, West and Central Africa, International Air Transport Association, IATA, Dr. Samson Fatokun, commended Air Peace for upholding high standards of safety in its flight operations.
Fatokun also congratulated the Air Peace team for achieving the “rare feat”. He revealed that many airlines had started the safety audit but were unable to complete it. He said: “It gives me joy to present this certificate today because I know it’s the fruit of the painstaking effort of your (Allen Onyema) team.
Many airlines are not able to achieve this because they don’t have the discipline and hard work that have consistently earned Air Peace this safety recognition. The certificate gives the airline a global recognition as a hundred percent safety-compliant airline”.
He also said that scaling through this third safety audit process is a testament to Air Peace’s commitment to maintaining high safety standards in its operations, noting that safety is IATA’s number one priority. The IATA chief further said that for any airline to pass the safety audit, its safety compliance must be a hundred percent, and Air Peace has met this prerequisite.
While receiving the certificate, Air Peace chairman, Barrister Allen Onyema expressed gratitude to the IATA team and commended the entire Air Peace team for a successful safety audit. He also assured that the airline would always align with global best practices and safety standards.
Speaking with Vanguard about the Air Peace feat, Engineer Benedict Adeyileka, former Director-General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, applauded the airline and said: “ This is good news for the Aviation industry”.
When asked what other safety areas do the airline need to improve upon, he said, “ None that I could think of, they need to keep the standard for now and continue to improve their errors wherever it exists”.
Immediate past General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Mr. Abioye Olayinka when informed by Vanguard that Air Peace has received its third IATA Operational Safety Audit, IOSA, certificate barely four years into its operation said the airline should be congratulated for maintaining and succeeding in her IOSA certification. According to him, it goes to show a serious and forward-looking business outfit.
Olayinka said: “Even though the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Nigeria’s regulatory body, has been accused severally of failing in her oversight duties, one must not forget the repeated mantra of the former DG, which was that “NCAA shall not regulate any airline out of business “.
This being so, the NCAA has been very effective in drumming it into the ears of our airlines to deepen safety and security of their operations, passengers and even the environment so that we can ensure zero tolerance for accidents”.
“As you know, accidents and incidents do sometimes happen. Let us, therefore, congratulate Air Peace for maintaining and succeeding in her IOSA certification. It goes to show a serious and forward-looking business outfit. Safety and security, they say, begin with each and every one of us.
However, airlines in Nigeria should up their games by ensuring that enough security measures are put in place to avoid stowaways or attempted stowaways as seen last year. This should involve the airline and FAAN, who should expand its patrol system”.
While advising the airline, Olayinka said “Passenger comfort and respect is another area requiring the concern of Air Peace and other local airlines by ensuring that passengers are treated fairly, respected and regularly informed should there be need for departure/arrival delays due to operational reasons.
We have observed passengers behaving in an unruly manner due to several of these factors, arising from delayed flights, missing luggage, missing flights etc”.
“Enraged and unruly passengers can become serious security and safety risks to any airline hence the need for synergy between the airport authority and the airlines”.
Speaking also with Vanguard, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), the former Commandant, Muritala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, explained that Air Peace getting its third IOSA certification means the airline’s safety and security standards meet those required for international operations which necessarily are higher than the national standards.
He further said with such certification, the airline can undertake international flight, interline with other international airlines or go into alliance with them if it so wishes.
Ojikutu said: “ The IOSA certification is meant for Air Peace alone and not for any other airline except other airlines go through the process of certification as Air Peace did. IOSA certification for airlines is similar to ICAO certification of member states that have sufficiently complied with the international best standards in aviation safety and security or better still, maintained the standards for the Category One status of the US FAA”.
“It means the operator’s safety and security standards meet those required for international operations which necessarily are higher than the national standards. With such certification, you can fly international, interline with other international airlines or go into alliance with them if you wish”.
“Renewal of certification is similar to the renewal of pilots licenses to ensure currency or assure that the standards are maintained. Such certification is subject to periodic audits like those of ICAO audits too on the international safety and security standards”.
“It is not by choice for airlines that go or fly international flights, it is an IATA requirement. It may not be a requirement regionally in the West Africa sub-region, but most countries make it compulsory for reciprocity airlines that fly to their countries or for airlines that want interline or alliance with them.
When asked what should Air Peace do to sustain the safety standard, Ojikutu said: “Adherence to the approved periodic maintenance programmes of International Air Transport Association, IATA, and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA”.
In a recent interview, Barrister Allen Onyema, the Executive Chairman of Air Peace revealed how the fleet of aircraft of the airline is maintained. Onyema said: “ Right from day one, I didn’t want to cut corners and that was why I didn’t want to employ individual engineers to run Air Peace.
I decided to outsource our maintenance. Our Boeing 737s are being maintained by a British company. Our maintenance is top-notch and zero tolerance to unsafe practices”.
“The Boeing 777s are being maintained by Israel Aerospace Industries of Israel, one of the biggest and best maintenance organisations in the world. They are always here maintaining our Boeing 777. We are in good hands.
We always go for the best. We spend a lot of money to do this because it gives us confidence. We have the desire to make Nigerians feel safe when they are flying us”
He also explained that safety and zero tolerance for accident has been the watchword of the airline while recruiting pilots and maintaining the Local Content policy of the federal government.
He said: “I believe in local content but don’t deceive yourself when you talk about safety, we won’t compromise on this. We don’t have enough captains for the Boeing 737s. Having 1,000 pilots who just passed out of school is not enough to qualify us as having enough pilots in Nigeria”.
“Air Peace is for local content but it is a gradual thing. We must have expatriates who will help us bring up our own. In aviation, anywhere you go, when it comes to cockpit crew, they are not bent on nationalism.
As long as you can fly the aircraft well, any country can employ you. We have trained over 100 pilots, some of them passed and we took them. I have sent some local pilots to get trained on Boeing 777 and about six of them will be leaving next week(last year, 2019). They have been flying for over 30years and will be type-rated on Boeing 777,” the Air Peace Boss said.
The airline has repeatedly said it has a reputation for grounding its aircraft for simple technical and weather challenges because of the premium it places on safety. The management was recently quoted as saying: “We are reputed for running a very strict safety and maintenance programme and have sustained this in the four years of our flight operations.
In the last four years of our flight services, our operations have been subjected to the scrutiny of reputable corporate and regulatory organisations and we acquitted ourselves creditably”.
“Just within two years of our operations, we secured our International Air Transport Association Organisational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate. Our IOSA certificate was renewed in April 2018 after our operations were subjected to tougher scrutiny by IATA.
We quite understand that aircraft are machines and as such can malfunction without warning. Besides, weather is a recurring issue in aviation all over the world. When there is a technical or weather challenge, our practice is never to take any risk however slight the situation maybe”.
“ We have mandated our pilots to always err on the side of safety and they have continued to display professional discipline in this regard. When our pilots have any doubt with regard to technical or weather issues, the practice is to return to base or divert to the closest airport for checks or to wait till it is safe to operate the flight”.
“Although our pro-safety approach comes with a huge financial burden, we are pleased that its guarantees the lives of our valued guests, crew and other members of the Air Peace family, including our chairman and directors who fly us because they are sure of the depth of maintenance we do,” Air Peace said.