Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Will Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority pass the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration audit?

Will Nigeria pass the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acid test?

That is a multi-billion dollar question. While some are skeptical about the nation’s success to scale the Category One Aviation audit, others are very upbeat about scaling the hurdles.

Their optimism, like in a football match where Nigerians always believe they can beat any team even before a football match is played, is about the only thing that has made them to believe that the country will pass.

Nigeria would, in September, know its fate concerning the success or otherwise of the audit conducted on the country’s aviation industry by the United States highest aviation regulatory body, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 31, this year.

It is the view of many in the aviation sector that Nigeria got the United States’ Category 1 Safety Status on a promissory note because the team that audited Nigeria saw the passion and the intent the country had then.

Today, there are differing views about whether Nigeria has kept to the standard that gave it the rating or whether it had retrograded. Nigeria attained Category 1 status in 2009 through the dedicated effort of a team led by Dr Harold Demuren, the former director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). It is clear today that sustaining the status is as difficult as achieving it was.

The reason for this skepticism is nothing short of the diminished role, responsibility and purview of the NCAA. Not a few believed that the NCAA’s regulatory oversight is being fragmented, diluted and constantly disrupted.

This negative interference will surely tell on how the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) agency will score the NCAA in the current audit The International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program involves assessing whether another country’s oversight of its air carriers that operate or seek to operate into the United States, complies with minimum international standards for aviation safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is making changes as it commences a new phase of the IASA program, following the completion of initial determinations on the safety oversight exercised by virtually all countries whose air carriers operate, or have applied to operate to the United States.

This notice modifies the IASA policies previously announced by the FAA. FAA Category 1 elevated the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations and granted the country the reputation of nation that is serious with air transport.

Since the passing of ICAO audit and the rating of the country as Category 1 status nation, the number of foreign airlines that come into the country has doubled. And after so many years, American airlines started operation into Nigeria, giving Nigerian travelers direct flight to destinations in the United States.

The audit of NCAA, which is Nigeria’s regulatory body for air transport by FAA, will be predicated on eight critical elements which include primary aviation legislation, which is the Civil Aviation Act; specific operating regulation; civil aviation system and setting oversight function, and technical personnel function and training.

Others are technical guidance material, tools and provision of sensitive critical information; licensing, certification, authorization and approval obligation; surveillance obligation which is monitoring compliance and resolution of safety concerns. If FAA withdraws Nigeria’s Category 1 Safety Status, aviation in the country would go down 10 years behind because it will give rise to moral downcast.

The apprehension stems from the fact that the United States Department of FAA, had on January 31, 2014 announced that India had been assigned a Category Two rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment, IASA, program, based on a recent reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority.

The downgrading of the India’s civil aviation safety oversight regime means that the country does not currently comply with the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO. But, FAA said that it would continue to work with India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation, DGCA, to identify the remaining steps necessary to regain Category One status for India.

With a Category two rating, India’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States, but will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.

India achieved a Category One rating, signifying compliance with ICAO standards, in August 1997. The attainment of the category one status made Nigeria the sixth African nation to do so after Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.

But, the recent downgrading of India aviation industry by FAA is giving some aviation players in the country a call for concern as they fear that Nigeria may be the next country to be hit with the FAA’s sledge hammer as a result of several safety lapses in the system and interference in the running of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, by the ministry of aviation.

Although, the navigational aids in the Nigerian airspace has improved over the years, but not yet perfect as some users of the facilities still complain of some loopholes in the system.

Source Article: http://newtelegraphonline.com

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