Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Federal Aviation Administration gives Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority 120-Day Deadline

The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration has given the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority 120 days to come up with an action plan to correct the deficiencies discovered in the nation’s aviation sector, according to findings by our correspondent.

The US FAA had audited the Nigerian aviation sector between March 31 and April 3.

A successful outcome of the audit will enable the country to retain the US FAA’s Category One certification, which will make Nigerian airlines to continue to operate direct flights to the US.

The Category One safety status was awarded to Nigeria in 2010 by the US after it was satisfied that the country had met the International Aviation Safety Assessment standards.

Ministry of Aviation sources said a few deficiencies were noticed in the process of auditing the nation’s aviation sector by the FAA.

According to the sources, the FAA has subsequently given the NCAA 120 days to come up with the corrective actions that will lead to the correction of the deficiencies.

One of the sources, who pleaded anonymity said, “The US FAA has debriefed us after the audit. A few deficiencies were noticed. They have given Nigeria 120 days to come up with an action plan that we will use to correct the deficiencies noticed. The deficiencies, which we call open items, are insignificant. They are things we can overcome; we are already trying to overcome them.

“A major one among them bothered on the training of NCAA pilots. The World Bank was to sponsor the training some months ago but because of a few disagreements on the part of Nigeria, the money was diverted to other items. Now, the NCAA is trying to make a new arrangement to get the funds for the training.”

It was learnt that as soon Nigeria completed the action plan, the FAA might choose to come back to determine what had been done, or invite officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to the US.

The US FAA, it was learnt, decided to re-audit Nigeria because of negative reports about the country’s aviation sector.

The Category One certification audit, also known as International Aviation Safety Assessment, is a program established by the FAA, with the purpose of ensuring that all aircraft operators registered outside the US and operating to or from the country are properly licensed and are subject to safety oversight provided by a competent civil aviation authority in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

The objective of the assessment is to ensure that Nigeria still maintains the safety standard in air transport, which enabled the US to award it the certificate in the first place.

The benefits of the FAA Category One Safety Status is that the Nigerian aviation sector has been accorded a high rating in the global aviation industry, with  its airlines having easy access to credit facilities from international financiers as well as insurance premium for Nigerian registered aircraft becoming relatively low.