THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has attributed the reduction in air crash rate to enhanced civil aviation regulations, improved air navigation equipment at airports and airside and the development of global strategies for safety in transportation.
Its Director-General, Captain Mukthar Usman, in an interview in Lagos, said Nigeria had witnessed zero accident in both passenger and cargo flights in the last three years.
This, he said, meant that Nigeria was aligning with the global trend where accident rates have declined sharply in the last few years.
Usman said the NCAA would continue to pursue global strategies and programmes that will improve civil aviation regulations as they affect its regulatory processes, procedures, systems and personnel.
He listed other factors responsible for decline in air accident rate to include maintenance of standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); monitoring of safety trends and indicators; implementation of targetted safety programmes; sharing of safety information by countries and effective response to natural disasters, conflicts or other causes.
Besides, Usman said the NCAA has taken other steps, including proper scrutiny for applicants of Airline?s Operators Certificate (AOC); economic regulation of airlines; creation of level playing field for all operators; enthroning professionalism by its personnel as well as implementation of a regime of sanctions, which has made safety violations unacceptable.
He said the NCAA will not relent but improve on the training and retraining of its technical personnel to ensure the zero accident profile was sustained.
Usman said the NCAA would ensure that the superstructure of safety was strenghtened.
He said: ?Nigeria will continue to participate in major global aviation events, increase consultation with airline operators and stakeholders as well as ensure compliance with international standards and recommended practices and Nigerian civil aviation regulations.?
Usman said the NCAA will not go back on the enforcement of sanctions as the authority in the last few years sanctioned airlines, pilots, cabin crew, aircraft engineers, flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance organisations and aviation security firms.
He said: ?Between October 2014 and December 2017, the NCAA has applied 90 sanctions. Fifteen pilots were sanctioned, five cabin crew, four aircraft engineers, one private security outfit was suspended, four approved maintenance organisations were sanctioned in addition to five airlines.
?There will be no going back in our bid to attain stability in safety and the profile of the industry. I must admit that the zero accident we have recorded in Nigeria for the third consecutive year is evidence of our robust regulatory oversight, bringing about increase in passenger volume, more application for air operators certificate and lower insurance premium.?
He said Nigeria will continue to pursue global safety and security programmes that have brought significant reduction in accident rate for airlines.
Usman said: ?As world aviation safety continues to increase, there has been a sharp fall in accident rate in Africa and Indian Ocean region. Between 2015 and 2016, it has decreased from 7.3 per cent to about 1.2 per cent.?
The NCAA boss said the authority has also stepped up its game in the regulation of personnel and renewal of licenses for pilots and other technical personnel as part of efforts to improve air safety.
He said: ?We have spared no efforts at ensuring that there is continious oversight and safety surveillance, migration of licenses from the paper format to cards fitted with biometric features in addition to ensuring that twenty three airports are now compliant with performance based navigation.?
He went on: ?We will continue to sustain the international technical safety rating of Nigeria, expressed through Category One, continue to push for the certification of more airports outside Lagos and Abuja and consolidate on the review of weather minima in eighteen airports so far achieved.?
He said the NCAA was also working on the re-certification of over 86 heliports, helidecks and helipads to ascertain safety of flights from such platforms.
Usman continued: ?Safety is a journey not a destination; this explains why we scrutinising 29 applications seeking to be issued air operators certificates as new entrants into the industry. Besides, we have issued three air operators certificates; we have renewed 11 and the fresh applications are at various stages of processing.?
He said the regulatory authority will continue to raise the bar in the discharge of its duties by ensuring only qulified personnel and organisations are issued licenses.
Usman said: ?So far, over 507 screening personnel from various organisations have been certified. Over 80 aviation security instructors have been certified by NCAA to deliver security training in Nigeria.This is, in addition to four NCAA and other aviation security instructors, trained by the United Nations on counter terrorism. Over 90 applications for registration of remotely piloted aircraft system have been received.