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Poor leadership bane of our aviation industry

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(vi) A Financial Audit of the agency revealed financial improprieties and the lack of transparency and accountability in financial transactions, including contract awards.

(vii) FAAN is severally constrained in the number of its technical staff, especially those involving engineering skill


3.9.1 Human resources are the greatest asset of any nation. A vibrant aviation industry requires highly skilled and experienced manpower of international acceptability. The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) was established for the training of various cadres of aviation personnel for the aviation industry in Nigeria and, indeed, the African region.

At the peak of its operations, the school trained pilots, flight engineers, air traffic controllers, aircraft maintenance engineers, aeronautical telecommunication engineers and related professionals. However, the College has been allowed to decay, to a point where it graduated only one set of pilots in seven years.

Performance of other specialties

The performance of the other specialities was equally unsatisfactory. This has manifested in the serious shortage being experienced in the aviation workforce across the entire professional cadre of the  institution. Equipment and facilities are either obsolete, unserviceable or non-existent. Qualified and experienced instructors are grossly inadequate.

Most of the professionals who are instructors at the school have not gone for retraining for years. The cost of ab-initio training itself has quadrupled over the last two decades. The few who can afford it, go overseas for their training. Some never return, and those who are good, end up with the oil companies, or are poached by stronger airlines.


3.10.1 As can be seen from the foregoing, a number of factors contributed to the dereliction in the aviation industry. These revolve around the general lack of sincerity and commitment to addressing safety and security issues on the part of industry stakeholders particularly, the airlines and the regulatory agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA).

3.10.2 The bottom line  is that the regulatory agencies, particularly, the NCAA, have failed to carry out the correct oversight that would have ensured that the airlines comply fully with established standards and Recommended Practices. On its part, the FMA  has been unable to give the industry the right leadership while its overbearing influence on the agencies has constrained them in properly discharging their regulatory oversight functions. The poor maintenance practices and unprofessional conduct of some of the Airlines, in an effort to make profit at all cost, have jeopardised industry safety and security.

Qualified technical manpower

3.10.3 The situation has been compound by the dearth of experienced and qualified technical manpower in the industry. The magnitude of the problem is such that poorly trained and relatively inexperienced personnel are performing core tasks, both in the aviation agencies and some of the airlines, clearly beyond their competencies.

The aviation industry also currently lacks a robust financial framework that could support its activities, especially long term funding. Thus, most of the indigenous airlines resort to short-term loans to finance their operations. The Tenor and terms of such facilities constitute, in  final analysis, an additional burden on the airlines. On the part of the aviation agencies, maintenance and upgrade of facilities, and staff development which are critical success factors, are neglected due to inadequacy of fund, and where available, misapplied.

3.10.4 The relevant Recommendations are taken up in the individual chapters.


4.1.1.The liberalisation of airlines operations in Nigeria and the subsequent emergence of private airlines brought with it a gradual reduction in the observance and enforcement of established safety and security standards hitherto unknown in Nigeria aviation. Prior to this, the industry was dominated by Nigeria Airways, the national carrier which has a commendable safety record and which formed the nucleus of Nigeria aviation.

4.1.2.Private airlines operating in the country, post liberalisation, seems to have overwhelmed the aviation regulatory agencies who have consistently been accused of inadequate enforcement of established standards and generally failing to ensure orderly, and safe development of the industry. The competence and integrity of the regulatory authority the safety of aerodrome, the quality of air traffic services as well as the airworthiness of airlines are at an all tiome time low and well below ICAO standards and recommended practices SARRs. Therefore, government’s determination to halt the slide and restore confidence in air travel in Nigeria could not have come at a server time.

4.1.3. It is with the aforementioned situation in mind that the Task Force examined the critical issues that needed to be addressed to restore safety in the industry.


4.2.1.DISCUSSION During the interactive session with stakeholders, the Task Force was repeatedly reminded of the fact that aircraft maintenance facilities in the country are limited, both in number and scope of services The National Hangar Projects is yet to be realised, while the few hangar facilities available belong to private airlines and offer only rudimentary services. These are in any case, not usually available for third party maintenance. A major disincentive to the setting up of more hangar facilities is the high cost of land at the airports. In the mean time, most airlines who do most of their aircraft maintenance overseas, complain not only of delay in getting slot but also, of the high cost of such aircraft maintenance. The fact that this is paid for in foreign currency, is a further drain on an already limited revenue base and so, a major disincentive to keeping to prescribed maintenance schedules. The allegation that some airlines are persistently “cutting corners” is directly linked to the issue of the prohibitive cost of aircraft maintenance overseas vis-a-vis the revenue base of the operators. As a interim measure, one of the interest groups i.e. Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) suggested to theTask Force at the interactive session that the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) hangar facilities at Ikeja, Makurdi and Kainji be permitted to accept civil aircraft so that interested private airlines could avail themselves of their use .                   Another problem reported to be chasing against safe aircraft operation in Nigeria is non-availability of aircraft spares. Airlines complain of subtantial revenue losses due to prolonged aircraft extra-time. It is alleged that some grounded aircraft are sometimes cannibalised due to non-availability of spare parts,  in order to keep other aircraft within the same fleet, flying.                   The Airlines Operator Of Nigeria (AON) has blamed the cumbersome custom clearance precedures, which they also described as long, tortuous and corruption ridden for undue delays of taking delivery of spare parts for Aircraft On Ground (AOGs). AGN has therefore advocated for a special aviation desk to be repeated by the customs for fast tracking the clearance of spare parts for AOGs. They also pointed out that the 2.5% duty on aircraft spares and related equipment imposses additional financial strain on the industry.

4.2.2. OBSERVATION  The Task Force is of the view that although most of the aircraft in use in Nigeria are not of a recent generation, the age of aircraft spare parts needs not be in problem. Rather, what is of paramount importance is ensuring that such older aircraft currently in use, comply strictly with the maintenance requirements of such aircraft by undertaking the mandatory checks as and when due.

4.2.3.RECOMMENDATIONS In view of the foregoing, to facilitate proper maintenance of aircraft in  use in Nigeria airspace, the Task Force recommends that:

(I) Government should approve the us e of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) hangars by interested private airlines pending the fruition of the National Hangar Project. The NCAA should provide oversight.

(II) The private sector should be encouraged to invest more in aircraft maintenance hangars by granting interested investors concessions in land acquisition. NCAA should also remove any existing obstacles ot third party use of avilable maintenance facilities.

(III) NCAA should provide  regulation and standards for  Maintenance Repair Organisation (MROs) in Nigeria.

(IV) Government should grant custom cuty waivers on aircraft spares, engines and test equipment.


4.3.1 OBSERVATION Nigeria is yet to domesticate some international treaties that have the potential of facilating safety and growth of the nation’s aviation industry. Notable, among these is the Cape Town Convention. This convention facilates acquisition through financing and leasing of expensive aviation equipment such as aircraft, rolling stock and spare assets with the equipment itself serving as collateral thereby eliminating the need for large cash collaterals, buildings, state and bank gurantees, which have hitherto, constrained previous new acquisition efforts.

4.3.2. Domestication of these and similar conventions would enable the nation’s aviation industry full advantage of the window of opportunities available internationally and thus enable the local industry address critical safety related issues such as acquisition of newer aircraft maintenance facilities and spare parts.

4.3.3. RECOMMENDATION Government should ratify and implement outstanding international aviation convention.


4.4.1          OBSERVATIONS     The existing civil aviation legislation in Nigeria does not give the regulatory agency (NCAA) the requisite power over the industry. This is at variance with ICAO standards. The functions of the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA) and those of the various civil aviation agencies are not clearly delineated. There is also extensive duplication of funtions and powers and wrangling among aviation agencies themselves. Some safety and security related functions are therefore not properly carried out. It is noteworthy  that the draft  of Aviation Bill of 2004 which was originated by the Federal Ministry of Aviation addresses some of the lapses observed above. Some of the powers of the Minister of Aviation, as presently curtailed in the Civil Aviation Act, LFN 1990, have been severely curtailed by the proposed legislation.

The functions of the aviation parastatals have also been streamlined with NCAA as industry regulator while the others – NAMA, NIMET, FAAN, NCAT, are service providers. These proposed arrangements would greatly enhance the position of the NCAA as industry regulator while the Minister of Aviation would retain control over policy making functions and exercise residual executives powers.

Holistic framework The Task Force also observed that there are two versions of the Civil Aviation Bill – the FMA and the BPE versions. It was also observed that there are fundamental differences between the two versions of the new Civil Aviation Bill. While the BPE version is predicated on a need to position the industry for privatisation and greater private sector participation the FMA  version is focused mainly on meeting ICAO requirements. Both versions of the Bill could therefore be harmonised into holistic framework, dynamic enough to accommodate emerging realities without compromising ICAO standards.

4.4.2 RECOMMENDATION   Government should grant autonomy to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).   Government should urgently set up a committee comprising representatives from the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA), NCAA, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), a legal practitioners with considerable experience in aviation matters, and a representative of aviation  professional bodies, to review and harmonise the BPE/FMA versions of the Bill.     The new Aviation Bill should be passed before October 2006. The NCAA Act should be amended to give the authority the powers to develop issue and raise operating regulations.

The Fire services at most of the airports were below standard and the firemen lacked training in modern fire fighting techniques.


Article Credit:Vanguard News

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