BY ANTHONY AWUNOR, Lagos –
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday confirmed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as the certified aerodrome operator for the provision of required airport services, facilities, systems and equipment at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, in line with international standards and recommended practices.
The certificate which was presented to the managing director/CEO of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma by the director general of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman at the NCAA headquarters in Lagos Monday attracted the presence of aviation stakeholders including agencies, directors, General Managers of aviation parastatals, management of MMA2, media amongst others.
Speaking during his opening remarks, Capt. Usman said that the current drive towards the certification of Nigerian airports is very significant not only as a requirement by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and NCAA regulations, but even more importantly as one of the critical safety targets set by the Abuja Ministerial Declaration of July 2012, that mandated all African states to certify their international airports.”
Confirming that the Lagos airport has been very safe, the DG stated that, it is has been endorsed for Boeing 747 jumbo 400 and that the airport has category 9 firefighting for day and night operations.
“Our airports have been very safe because we take in domestic and international operations day and night. It has category 9 firefighting facility. The certificate issued today being 18th September 2017 will expire three years from now”, he said.
Usman who said that certification is an enabler for the attainment of a regional hub which Nigeria desires for Lagos and Abuja added that one of the objectives of ICAO Aerodrome Certification Programme is to assist States to effectively implement the critical elements of a safety oversight system in accordance with Annex 14 Vo. 1, and other relevant ICAO specifications.
Other benefits, according to Usman are “to signify to aircraft operators and other organisations operating at the aerodrome that, at the time of certification, the aerodrome meets the specifications regarding its facilities and operations, and that it has, according to the certifying authority, the capability to maintain these specifications for the period of validity of the certificate. The certification process also establishes the baseline for continued monitoring of compliance with the specifications”.
Advising stakeholders, Capt Usman warned that while Nigeria is still basking in the euphoria of the issuance of the first aerodrome certificate, we should not lose sight of the additional responsibilities that past certification bestows on the Regulatory Authority as well as Certified Aerodrome Operator for sustenance of the certification achieved.
On their part, Usman said that NCAA is required to immediately commence the implementation of a post certification surveillance plan for the continuous monitoring of airport services, facilities, procedures and manpower levels to ensure that the acceptable level of safety is not infringed on.
Another task NCAA owes the industry is to ensure compliance with ICAO and national regulations at all times in her safety oversight responsibilities just as it is expected to impose sanction where necessary or suspend certificate to enforce compliance with standards.
FAAN according to Usman has the utmost responsibility of operating the MMA in accordance with ICAO standards and Recommended Practices, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, as well as any special conditions on which the certificate is issued.
“FAAN is also required to promptly notify the NCAA of any changes in aerodrome services, facilities, procedures or staffing levels that can affect the certification of the aerodrome. Likewise, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency is required by Para 2.13.1 of Amendment 35 to ICAO Annex 15, to publish in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) the certification status of all Nigerian aerodromes, showing: aerodrome name and ICAO location indicator; date and if applicable, validity of certification; remarks , if any”.
Promising that the certification of Abuja airport is in the final stage, Usman affirmed that NCAA is committed to the certification of all Nigerian International airports in line with national Regulations, ICAO SARPs, as well as the AFI Regional Safety Targets.
In his briefs on Aerodrome Certification of MMA, director, Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS), Mohammed Odunowo said the first attempt to get Aerodrome Certification of MMA started in 2006, stressing that despite concerted efforts made by FAAN, the certification could not be achieved.
According to Odunowo, the expected benefits of aerodrome certification include: enhancement in the provision of safety critical aerodrome facilities, services, procedures and personnel; enhancement in Collaborative Decision Making amongst airport stakeholders, especially between the Aerodrome Operator and the Civil Aviation Authority; enhancement in safety and efficiency of flight operations as a result of improved facilities and services; facilitatation of the development of regional hubs through improved capacity, safety and efficiency and Attract the inflow of capital investment into airport development and management e.g. concessioning, etc.
“While we celebrate the successful completion of the certification of Murtala Muhammed Airport, we should however not lose sight of the fact that Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kaduna airports are also awaiting certification. Consequently, we wish to urge all concerned, to intensify efforts towards the timely certification these outstanding international airports”, Odunowo said.
The DAAS said that the certification of MMA is premised on some special conditions that the aerodrome authority is required to address within the acceptable timeframe as provided in the agreed corrective action plan.
He equally pointed out that the sustenance of aerodrome certification is dependent on the availability of a post certification Surveillance, Compliance and Enforcement Plan.
“NCAA has developed a comprehensive surveillance plan for continuous monitoring of the agreed level of safety performance in aerodrome facilities, services or procedures, as well as compliance and enforcement measures, when necessary”, he added.
Advising government, the DAAS pointed out that the certification of aerodromes as well as the sustenance of such certification requires continuous funding, just as he solicited for the cooperation and support of the management of NCAA and FAAN in not only sustaining the certification of Lagos, but also the certification of outstanding international airports.
In his response, managing director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma expressed his happiness saying “I am so happy and humbled that I don’t know what to say. Those of us that know the history of certification of airport in Nigeria will agree with me that it has always been like “starting and abandoning; starting and abandoning”. The greatest beneficiaries are the airlines operators. I want to assure that it is a long process. We have been on it for the last two and half years. A lot of resources have been put in it. We want to make sure that the certification is sustained. We have to come out with a system that will work. We assure the DG that we will sustain it”.
Thanking ICAO, NCAA, ACI and airline operators, Engr. Dunoma assured that FAAN focused on MMA first, being the busiest airport. On Abuja airport, he said a lot has been done to certify the airport, adding that the remaining items to be closed on Abuja will be done in a short period of time.