In this report, ANTHONY AWUNOR writes that 2017 was particularly a safe year for the aviation sector in Nigeria and that 2018 would be challenging for sector agencies, airlines and other stakeholders in sustaining the achievements made last year.
Sustenance of Safety Records
The next 12 months will be a year challenging period for stakeholders to sustain the safety achievements that were made in 2017 in Nigeria .This is because last year was a very safe year in aviation, being that Nigeria recorded no commercial schedule service accident. It was same in 2016 ; it is therefore, expected that agencies, airlines and stakeholders would want to consolidate on such achievement.
According to the director general of NCAA, Mr Murtah Usman, such feat was made due to lots of hardwork, training, surveillance and inspections.
Assuring that the agency would keep the pace this year, Usman said “We want to do more of that this year. Last year, we were able to work very hard in the retention of the Category 1 Federal Aviation Administration Certification for Nigeria. It is one thing to attain it and another thing to sustain it. Our pledge this year is that we would continue to sustain whatever certification we have and also to build on the successes we recorded in 2017.
Implementation of Accident Reports
In 2018, Usman said that, part of his agency’s focus will be to implement safety recommendations arising from previous accident reports. Only last year, the Accident Investigation Bureau had churned out over 10 reports, just as it recommended some safety guidelines for airlines, aircraft makers, agencies and other stakeholders.
In compliance, Usman noted that the essence of the investigation is for them to act on it and prevent accidents from happening, adding that in some cases, it involves them to review regulations to prevent accidents from happening.
In 2018, all eyes will be on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Others are the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and others to ensure that they meet up with the recommendations arising from accident reports made by Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in 2017.
Reacting to that, Usman said “Yes, we are working with the AIB that made the report and we meet quarterly to review progress and implementation of such reports. We ensure where operators are expected to implement certain things are implemented and also on our own part, we are required to make necessary amendments on what we have done”.
On regulations, Usman said “we do that in several ways such as certification and recertification. We do inspections; we also carry out audits, surveillance to ensure that whatever is provided for in the regulation that needs to be enforced are adequately enforced”.
Last year witnessed significant improvements in the areas of infrastructure development, safety, security and manpower development.
In 2018, it is expected that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN would continue to step up the developmental projects at most of the nation’s airports for better service delivery. The executive order issued at the early part of last year by the presidency has already built a structure to facilitate the Ease of Doing Business initiative at the airport; it therefore, expected that FAAN would be able to reduce delays and fast-track departure formalities of arriving and departing passengers in the year under review .
Another challenging situation that may arise in 2018 is the need to sustain the certification of Murtala Muhammed Airport MMA and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had on September 16, 2017 and September 18, 2017 certified 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, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja respectively.
Since both airports were certified in line with international standards and recommended practices, FAAN would in 2018 do everything possible to retain such standard.
Regional devolution and expected changes in connectivity and capacity between Nigeria and other countries will lead to a boost in air travel in the year.
Connections to strong Nigerian trading partner cities and regions will continue to be a focus for route development and hence capacity demand. In particular, we may see changes and increase in route expansions in the year under review.
For instance Air Peace has revealed plans to expand strategically in Africa as well as Europe and the Far East in 2018, noting that the airline is deepening air connectivity on many routes in the northern part of the country in 2018.
The airline, within the year, is equally planning to start operations to Dubai, Guangzhou, London, Houston, Mumbai and Johannesburg.
Similarly, Med-View Airline has plans to start Texas operations in the 2018 and also Washington.
Confirming the plans, the chief executive officer of Med-View Airlines, Alhaji Muneer Bankole stated recently that “We went to Anglophone and Francophone countries and we are in the Middle East and UK now. The next stage is to be in United States and China. It will be the next by the grace of God. We are going step by step”
Arik Air on its own is said to have plans to return to most of its international routes within the year, including UK and even the United States of America
Safety and security
With the level of safety and security attained last year, the airport community is expected to improve on it this year. Assuring on safety and security in the New Year, Usman said “I will tell them to expect safe, secure and efficient air transportation system in Nigeria. It is one thing to attain success but to manage it is difficult. So we have attained certain levels of safety in aviation and we are working to ensure that we continue to sustain and even to improve on that level that we have attained.
“Security is always a challenge everywhere as you are developing ways of improving, the bad guys are also working hard to see how they can circumvent those things we have put in place”,Usman said.
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