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Aviation Experts Take Swipe At Civil Aviation Act


Stakeholders in the nation’s aviation industry have come up with their views on the national aviation policy following a letter sent out by the Director General, Civil Aviation (DGCA) for stakeholders to contribute views and submissions that would help regulate the industry better.

Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority is the regulatory body for aviation in Nigeria. It became autonomous with the passing into law of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by the National Assembly and assent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Act not only empowers the Authority to regulate Aviation Safety without political interference, but also to carry out oversight functions of Airports, Airspace, Meteorological Services, etc as well as economic regulations of the industry..

Commending Civil Aviation Policy review, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, Chairman of West Link described as a welcome development, the Director General Civil Aviation’s plans to review the National Aviation Policy for the development of the industry saying he has made his submissions.

This is just as he has criticised what he described as disingenuous state weather minima laws, wondering why the country would pay so much to acquire Cat 3 equipment and lighting that land aircraft in zero visibility with pilots trained to land in adverse weather, but are prohibited to do so due to such laws.

Mshelia was reacting to the DGCA’s assertion last week that he had sent out an All Operators Letter ( AOL) for stakeholders to contribute views and submissions that would help regulate the industry better but met with very few responses.

Mshelia who expressed support for the review said it was impressive because no nation builds itself and the stakeholders will build the industry with their contributions.

Mshelia said,”Well, talk about National Aviation Policy. I think the DG did very well in pushing for a review, the last one was 2013. It’s due for review, ideally every 10 years or anytime it’s necessary. He’s done well there, he sent out that AOL to everybody I can vouch for, he is correct, I received it. I received it, I have contributed my own quota officially with a letter to his office. I’ve made my own contribution.

“I am particularly impressed he sent an AOL and attached the 2013 document and he did assure us that he is willing to work with us so that we bring all our problems and change it. I sat down and did my own and submitted it to the DGs office directly before I closed for the holidays.

On the DG’s submission on very poor responses he said, “I agree with the DG, part of the problems why the government has not been able to put fingers on challenges and fix them is because of us, the so-called professionals.

“So yes, the reason the DG is saying this is because the truth of the matter is no nation builds itself,the citizens build the nation.We do have experts and all claim experts but why is our aviation system still the worst around here? This is because there is no good intention.

On the State weather minima, Mshelia said the law was an impediment but stressed pilots have no choice but to comply with the laws or be cited for violations, which no pilot wants as it affects their careers and employability.

He said a pilot is trained to fly through adverse weather and normal weather knowing when to do what, and when not to go as he/ she is certificated by the CAA only to be limited especially during harmattan.

He said,” A pilot is trained to fly through adverse weather and normal weather he knows when to do what, he knows when not to go, he is certificated by the CAA, then the government now limits the pilot’s ability, especially during harmattan and say ‘ you cannot fly unless the weather is 800 metres and above’ I have been shouting about this for a long time but nobody is listening, we are trained on this.

Also speaking was Olumide Fidel Ohunayo, Head, Research & Corporate Travel, Zenith Consult, Tours Travel who stated that the amendment of the 2006 Civil Aviation Act to reflect the present realities in civil aviation is commendable and long overdue considering a review is necessary every five years at most.

According to Ohunayo, the goal of the amendments is to have a National Civil Aviation Policy that promotes a harmonized approach for sustaining the best global practices in the management of the various aspects of civil aviation and to have a regulator which is vested with the independent responsibility for safety, security oversight and economic regulation of the aviation industry in accordance with all international conventions and agreements, government policies and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

He said “The institution given this responsibility is the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which is an agency under the supervision of the ministry of Aviation” .

“The 2006 act gave the Ministry of aviation some roles that conflict with the NCAA, such as coordination, formulation, and review as well as monitoring of the implementation of aviation technical policies with emphasis on the promotion of safety and security of civil aviation in Nigeria in accordance with international standards and best practices. They were also assigned the supervision of the design, construction and maintenance of Federal Government owned airstrips and aerodromes including other non-revenue generating facilities of the aviation industry”.

“Also, some of the responsibilities of the Economic Regulation unit in the ministry and the proposed Nigerian Aviation Economic Regulatory body that died during incubation, hopefully never to be conceptualized again, should be in the Air Transport Regulations Directorate in the NCAA, a directorate capable and empowered to handle the responsibilities stated above”.

“The Public Service Obligation (PSO) route in the act has never been implemented despite its numerous benefits to the economy in general and the unserved communities in particular. PSO routes were to ensure Nigerians in remote and underserved communities have reasonable access to air services to major cities and other key centers, including routes that are not commercially viable”.

The federal government has not shown any interest in this direction, rather it’s the state government that has been subsidizing such flights. The licensing of a new category of carriers can help in this direction, simply labelled Commuter Carriers with the maximum aggregate passenger seats of all aircraft in its fleet not exceeding 100 seats, if a Commuter Carrier fleet seats exceed the maximum, it must re-certify as a Major Domestic Carrier. The commuters can operate to these underserved cities using the public service obligation route.

On the establishment of an independent body to coordinate search and rescue in the event of an emergency, Ohunayo insisted that, this is not necessary as the existing structure within Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is effective with the establishment of Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC). The existing operational framework suffices.