The spokesperson for the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye in this interview with OLUWATOBILOBA OYENIYI speaks on current achievement of the NCAA. Excerpts:
Recently, Nigeria got the Category 1 certification. Can you explain this category one came on board?
Some years back, close to over 40 years now the America congress equivalent to our senate passed a motion that eventually became a law that any country’s airline that wants to fly to US on a scheduled bases, that is carrying passenger, the America federal aviation administration, which is just like our own Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, America call their own Federal Aviation Administration that they should go and audit that country, that is the CAA and the airlines of such country.
This is how this assessment came about.
So they started that exercise. It is used to be category 1, 2 and 3, now they now make it 1 or 2, if you are there you are one, if you are not there you are two. So they started doing it that way. That’s how Category 1 came about.
Now when they come and assess your CAA in case of Nigeria.UK will call it UK CAA United Kingdom Civil authority, Ghana CAA except America a that call Federal Aviation Authority every other country call it Civil Aviation Authority. When they come, they will assess the CAA of the country, before agree to allow the airlines to fly to their country. Before the airlines can start flying to US, they will do the audit first. They will look at that airlines, they will look at the CAA.
So they are looking at some critical area which involved the CAA itself, your organization, so the audit personnel who are the people inspecting an aircrafts? Who are the people certifying planes? Who are the people issuing license to pilots? Who are the people giving licenses to airports to operate? So they look at the totality of that. Are they qualified? Are they current? Are they up to date? Are they trained? Were they being retrained? Not just to show it but have gone for the training. And some training is mandatory, you must have gone for it, they look at the law we are using.
We have series of law we are using, but the key one is the Civil Aviation Act, the law that gave rise to existence of NCAA, passed by our own National Assembly as well and one we have which is memo of the pass law.
The first that CAA will have is in 1964 and the next one we had was in 2006. Retrieving the old one modernizing and its being reviewing now even as we speak .They will look at our law if it is a modern day department for Civil Aviation, they will also look at our regulations.
We have a regulations which is here, we reviewed it last in 2015, we reviewed it 2009, we had another one in 2012 and 2015; this is what we use for our operations. Every segment of aviation has a law on it and that Civil Aviation Act give us power to make a law. So we can make a law from that act, most people do not know that some organization can make a law on their own, the act gave power to us to make law for our operations. Somebody can be tried and can go to jail base on this law. And this law was printed by the government printers now.
They will look at our enforcement and compliance. They will look at the airline, they will look at the safety, management system, how do they run it? They will look at the airline, the particulars they submitted, and so that’s all they will look at.
They will conduct interviews here and there, this is what they assessed and come to conclusion that we belong to category one. That is we are among those who are doing the right things in the world wide. And it is not indefinite.
After a while, they come again to look at it again but that is just an addition.
All of us including the USA belong to body known as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is an agency of the United Nations that oversees aviation worldwide ,just like we have World Health Organization (WHO).
So, they prescribed a minimum standard which is that Member states should be audited to see that we are all doing the right thing. We went through that. So, we release our house system to go and audit another state, while other state also releases theirs to come to our country and having found us to be doing the right thing as it’s compliant, we retain our status.
This then translates to me that any airline that is so designated by Federal Government, to go to US on commercial basis, can now begin to go with the aircraft they registered that is under our control.
If we had failed, the airlines so designated like Arik, Med-view and others cannot go with their plane. They have to go and hire plane in the country that has category one status, that’s the implication.
With the recent near mishaps in the industry, have we really retained that category one status?
Yes, we just announced to the whole world.
I think I should explain the issue of the incidents, I will give you one explanation even when there was a crash, and we went through category one. In 2010, there were crashes real crashes that people died, yet, we still passed
When we now talk of incident, the issues is like phone, once you operate the phone, the value of the phone is not the way it was bought, it will starts depreciating because it’s being used.
If you have bought it and kept it in the pack without touching it, then it remains its value. Now as you are using it, certain things would be happening that will warrant you buying screen saver and cover because you are using it that’s why it’s like that.
Now if you are operating your aircraft, they are bound to experience incidences, it is welcome, and in fact when you don’t have a record of incidences, then you are lying. It exposes the system to danger because for every plane that is flying, the crew and everyone that is operating it have booklet like a hardcover notebook on board where they write record of the things that have happened in the cause of the operation to the others, we call it technical tech law, we call it law book.
This is where they record all the problems that happens from one point to the other, and when the inspectors entered an aircraft that landed in one point to check, the first thing an inspector will ask is the C of A, Certificate of Air Worthiness issued by NCAA to each plane.
Each fleet has its own. And only issues when everything has been checked, that the aircraft is healthy to continue to fly for a period until maintenance is due, once the maintenance is due your C and A will be suspended till the maintenance is done.
The inspector will also requested for tech law, the law book and such inspector will open it and if it is blank the inspector will be suspicious of such person.
We expected you to have something recorded, there must be some action performance it could be positive, it could be negative, it could be oil leakage and anything you record it then when you get to other side you fix it, and it must be known.
But when you said everything is 100 per cent which is not practically possible.
In this part of this world, people only recorded incidence in the newspaper. Those who are advanced, those who are knowledgeable, those who are developed and those who have operation than us, if they should start recording every aviation incident that happened every day, then there won’t be space for their news.
How many airlines do you think is flying in US every day? Delta Airline is one of the bigger airlines that are from USA. USA has over 400 aircrafts as their fleet, we are talking of 9,10… here in Nigeria, they have over 400, and America has many airlines. So if their media house has to be recording every incidence, then there won’t be space for news, because so many things happened every day.
Hardly, you won’t see airplane dropped off in US sky in two weeks. Is not as if they don’t value life if not more than, but the issue is that incidence is a normal occurrence.
What is expected of NCAA is to analyze the incident as they are happening, to prevent an accident from occurring which is how it should be, and that’s why such incident should be reported.
Once any airline has an incident, such airline should be reported to NCAA, so that NCAA can have that information and act on it.
When analyzing, sometimes we summon the crew or the airline officials to explain the incident. We will also tell them our observation, we will tell them what to do if there is a need for it and this is done regularly to prevent an accident.
Because when a plane takes off and develops a fault, the law allows such flight to come back and fix it. But when the media will reports it, they estimate people on board with headline like”100 people cheat death today”. Meanwhile, the pilot has done the right thing. But media turn it negative outside the world.
What are the benefits of this Category 1 certification?
The benefits of Category 1 if I must tell you are firstly, it will allow airline to fly directly to us, unhindered, direct fly. Going to USA alone from here is 14 hours and if you don’t have a direct flight, it means you will now board another country’s airline to take you to US and it will make the journey to be longer and you will spend more time and resources.
Also, Insurance premium on the aircraft will reduce.
Furthermore, more investors will come in.
As we speak, many countries that had Category 1 before are losing it, our neighbour Ghana lost it, including the advanced country. Many are losing it at the time we are retaining it. It is not a dash me achievement.
What did the achievement cost NCAA?
We used to secure services of expert within Nigeria and outside, possibly abroad, to come and help us to do it before and we paid them millions. But this time around, we used our staff in house without spending extra kobo, we have done it before that we have to borrow money from our sisters NAMA and FAAN to loan us some money when we couldn’t raise the money on our own.
This time, we trained our own people and it didn’t cost us. We didn’t borrow money this time around.
This means, we have gone a long way as a CAA. And we will continue to make Nigeria proud.