Nigeria’s air transport industry is expected to be audited by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in August to ensure that it abides by international safety standards and recommended practices.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) evaluates the aviation safety and security oversight capacities of its 193 member countries. The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) conducts audits in the safety area.
ICAO conducts a systematic and objective review of a state’s compliance with the provisions of the convention or national regulations, as well as its implementation of ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPS) procedures and aviation safety best practices, during a USOAP audit.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which conducts the audit every three or four years, would be assessing Nigeria at a time when its air safety is among the finest in the world in terms of flight operations. Nigeria has been on the rise since 2016, Nigeria has only lost three persons in aircraft accidents involving civil aviation.
That had to do with helicopter accidents. Since 2014 Nigeria has not recorded any major accident involving scheduled flight service. This is the area where many industry operators give kudos to the past Buhari’s administration.
But what made this possible is the collaboration between the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), which is now Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Nigeria’s air safety improved significantly when NCAA began to effectively implement the recommendations of NSIB, especially after Captain Musa Nuhu took over as Director General of the regulatory body and Akin Olateru took over the then AIB. He is now the Director General of NSIB.
The two main aviation agencies collaborated to dramatically increase safety in Nigeria’s airspace, and the country is currently forecast to have the safest airspace in Africa in terms of major incidents and accidents in civil aviation, trailed only by Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa.
Olateru stated last year that the NSIB was well-prepared to continue its coverage of the aviation industry in accident investigation and expand its tentacles to maritime and rail. He also stated that the Bureau has accomplished 82 percent implementation of safety records thus far, and that it has collaborated with stakeholders in the execution of the recommendations.
“We achieved 82 percent implementation”. That is not different from what the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) can achieve, and we collaborate with stakeholders on the implementation,” Olateru said.
Spokesman of NSIB, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi explained to THISDAY why Nigeria improved significantly in air safety and also said that Nigeria is prepared for the forthcoming ICAO audit.
“The industry is prepared for the audit. NSIB and NCAA are ready. There has been a lot of improvement in terms of safety recommendations because if you carry out investigations you will notice areas that need to be improved on to enhance safety; so, you make safety recommendations to NCAA and the airline operators.
“We have a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the safety recommendations. We have also tried to make sure that it is not only that the recommendations were implemented but that the implementation achieved the desired goals,” Oketunbi said.
When asked why the then AIB delayed most of the report of the accidents before 2017, he said that there were many factors that were responsible for that. He attributed the delay to human and other factors in the system, including lack of funding.
“But when Olateru came in he devised creative ways of getting funding. Also, then we had personnel that were not galvanized enough to be up to the task. What is importante, however, is que we have made a lot de progreso. There were other factors that were brought to bear, which enhanced the quick investigation by the Bureau,” he said.
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