… says NCAA will work with all parties to resolve any challenge
The Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, has said that the agency will not compromise the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) laid down standards in the issuance of Air Operators Certificate (AOC).
Nuhu was speaking in reaction to the several allegations and accusations made against the NCAA by the Chief Operating Officer of Tropical Artic Logistics (TAL), Mr. Femi Adeniji.
He stated that the NCAA will not compromise in the enforcement of safety standards, regulatory requirements and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in conformity with all regulatory requirements and the ICAO’s SARPs, in the initial issuance and renewal of all AOC irrespective of the personality or/and organisation involved.
The Director General said NCAA will continue to operate within its mandate to the safe, secure and efficiency of the industry as enshrined in the 2006 Civil Aviation ACT.
On the matter of non-renewal of TAL’s AOC, he categorically stated that TAL fell short in meeting the requirements for the renewal of the AOC as it currently does not have three out of four key nominated post holders.
“The missing key personnel include the Director of Maintenance, Director of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot.
“In addition the operator is yet to comply with COVID-19 Industry Restart Programme like all other industry players did before receiving approval to resume operations. TAL’s AOC will be renewed when these requirements have been satisfactorily met,” Nuhu stated.
He further stated the 5 Phase AOC process (both initial and renewal) is not peculiar to Nigeria as it is an ICAO requirement (ICAO Annex 6 Parts I and III and ICAO Document 8335) which is captured in Nig.CARS 2015 Part 9 on AOC Certification.
“These strict regulations are to ensure only qualified applicants are granted AOC. This is one of the main reasons Nigeria attained the FAA International Aviation Safety Audit (IASA) Category 1 in the first instance.
“Nig.CARS 2015 was established with the participation and consultation of all industry stakeholders and must be complied with to the full extent until such a time there is a review of the regulations.
“This is the reason for the name ‘Nigerian Civil Regulations (Nig.CARS’) rather than NCAA Regulations,” he pointed out.
The NCAA boss further stated that manufacturers recommendations as alluded to by TAL’s Chief Operating Officer are just “recommendations” which can neither override nor replace regulations based on ICAO SARPS and Annexes.
“No manufacturer has the authority to issue an extension approval without the knowledge and approval of Civil Aviation Authorities which ultimately is responsible for the safety of flight operations. Extensions are the prerogative of CAAs period.
“During a Certificate of Airworthiness Inspection of the operator’s AW139 Helicopter with registration 5N-BVQ in June 2020, it was discovered that the machine was being operated with a component (Tank Foam) that was overdue for replacement.
“A review of the records showed that the OEM; Leonardo Helicopters had supplied TAL with all replacement KITS and advised the operator to contact NCAA for extension. The NCAA was neither contacted for an extension nor was the Tank Foam replaced.
“An enforcement action was taken by the issuance of a Letter of Investigation (LOI) and the requirement of compliance with OEM’s recommendations. The maintenance repairs and replacement of the tank Foam was performed by Aero Contractors and some serious defects were identified and fixed,” he explained.
Nuhu gave examples of two prominent Nigerians among several others who had trained in Ukraine and performed creditably well beyond all expectations, contrary to the insinuation that NCAA personnel trained at Ukraine University neither had industry experience nor were competent to effectively perform their duties.
“Dr. OB Aliu and Dr. Harold Demurren too globally are recognised and respected personalities for their antecedents and which records speak for themselves.
“These two global aviation ambassadors from Nigeria served in the NCAA as a Director and Director General respectively, the platform for their successful future endeavours.
“Dr. OB Aliu served as two-term President of the Council of ICAO the apex global civil aviation body, a period of unprecedented safety improvement and growth of the global aviation with the introduction of global and regional programmes such as “No Country Left Behind Initiative” and “AFI Plan” amongst several others.
“In addition all inspectors irrespective of their prior qualifications and or experience must undergo a comprehensive training programme under the Inspector Training System (ITS). This includes five mandatory courses, appropriate specialised courses and On-The-Job-Training.
“This training system which is continuously ongoing is not only recognised but also recommended by ICAO. ITS applies to all inspectors without exception,” the Director General boasted.
He expressed his exasperation on the insinuation of corruption in the system. “If Mr. Adeniji has any evidence of either corruption or any corrupt practices he should file a complaint to relevant authorities for investigations and follow-up actions rather than casting questionable doubts in the public fora on the credibility of the authority.
“It is also sad the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TAL took it upon himself to illegally record the official discussion with an NCAA staff for reasons best known to him, this matter was resolved at a police station with Mr. Adeniji giving an unreserved apology,” he said.
However, Nuhu accepted that the NCAA was not a perfect entity and that it had its own peculiar challenges and difficulties like all organisations, though there is room for improvement.
One major challenge according to him is that of manual processes in the authority that can be cumbersome, inefficient and difficult.
Management has recognised these shortcomings and developed plans to digitise its documentation and automate its internal processes not only for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness but most importantly to deal with the rapid growth of the domestic industry.
He revealed that the plan amongst others include the acquisition of Safety Oversight Management System (currently in procurement) which forms the backbone of several CAAs.
The implementation of this system he said is expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year and other measures including the implementation of a Quality Management System, ISO 9001 Certification together with Technical Quality Assurance.
Nuhu pointed out that change management ranks high in the successful implementation of these plans and it is being given the appropriate level of attention and resources.
The NCAA Helmsman extended his hand of friendship to all industry players for the benefit of the nation and stressed that the NCAA was a partner in progress rather than the proverbial industry policeman.
“The Authority is ready and willing to work with all parties to resolve any challenge or difficulty they may face as it has already done with many,” he promised.