Vanguard (Lagos)

13 July 2012

Nigeria: Why Our Planes Crash (III)

Photo: The Vanguard
Planes Collide

The summary of the final report of the Presidential Task Force on Aviation Industry submitted by the Task Force team headed by Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike (rtd) on March 2006

Continues from yesterday

38. Placements of aviation risks abroad must be preceded by the express approval of the Commissioner of Insurance as required by the 2003 Insurance Act.

The NCAA should conduct an annual verification of insurance cover of all airlines from the underwriters to ensure authenticity. In addition, the NCAA should mandate all airlines to submit complete copies of the policy documents for all insurance contracts rather than the cover notes given for each aircraft. The Task Force recommends an annual audit of the insurance covers of all airlines and agencies to ensure that they constantly meet both the local and international requirements.

39. The NCAA should include local insurance covers for employees in the guidelines to the airlines.

Most airlines do not have insurance cover for their ground staff as required by law, concentrating instead on the flight crew; and therefore should be robust enough, noting the perils associated with working in an airport environment.

40. NAMA should automate and integrate its entire operational processes to provide a single focal point for transactions processing, data storage, archiving and report generation.

Prior to the automation, the following tasks should be done:

(i) Conduct detailed investigation to establish the reasons why the ERP Accounting Package, which was procured in year 2000, has not been implemented and put to use;

(ii) Assess the functionalities of the existing Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems (software, hardware and communication) against the user requirements to identify gaps and solution options;

(iii) Implement the best-fit solution option.

41. NCAA should provide sets of regulations and standards for all Maintenance Repair Organisations (MROs) in Nigeria.

There are a number of maintenance facilities already existing, while a few others are currently being developed.

Certification criteria

The relevant certification criteria for MROs should be defined and widely circulated by NCAA so that intending investors would avail themselves of the requirements and work towards them, right from the out set. This will ensure that once such facilities come on steam, they would be certified without delays and be available for immediate use. The existing MROs should strive to meet the standards within a specified time frame. Such a standard should be comparable with the current best practices in the industry.

42. Government should approve the immediate rehabilitation of Akure and Owerri airports at a cost of N727,919,808.10 and N336,033,404.67 respectively.

These airports are grossly deficient in fire fighting and other safety requirements that their continued use is considered risky. At Owerri airport, there is no visible water source for fire fighting and no water hydrant. The nearest source of water supply is 30 km away. There is a fire truck which is not appropriate for aviation fire fighting and the personnel lack requisite professionalism. Moreover, while the Task Force was on inspection, people could be seen crossing the runway on foot and motorcycles due to the porous nature of the airport. For Akure airport, there is no water supply for fire fighting purposes. The nearest water source is a borehole, about 12kilometres away. The only fire vehicles available did not have competent staff to operate it.

43. FAAN should urgently train fire and rescue personnel. The Task Force observed that

fire and rescue personnel lack the requisite skill to effectively discharge their duties. Most of them have not gone for re-currency training for as far back as 15 years ago.

44. FAAN should review its airports' master plans for the medium (five years) and long term (20 years).

This would forestall encroachment, and ensure compliance by successive airport administrations with development programmes.

45. NCAA should develop and publish requirements for the licensing of aerodromes and assess airports accordingly. One of the requirements should be Safety Management System (SMS) for the airports.

Licensing requirement

This would ensure that airports of the same category are developed to the same standard, and that the same criteria are used in assessing airports. The licensing requirement should include a safety management system for the airports. This would ensure that all licensed airports are well equipped to carry out timely, expeditious and coordinated response to airport incidents and accidents.

46. FAAN should institute a ramp/airfield safety committee, involving all stakeholders, at all airports. This would ensure that all stakeholders are abreast of current safety procedures and requirements to prevent incidents and accidents on the ramp and airfield. The incidence of carrying out ground handling functions outside IATA standards would also be reduced.

47. FAAN should carry out a magnetic variation survey for all its runways.

This is to take care of earth movement which may, with time, change the orientation of a runway. Affected runways should be re-designated as appropriate.

48. FAAN should augment the primary power supply to airports.

Adequate secondary sources/sub-stations of power supply should be provided at the airports. This would ensure that safety critical services are automatically restored in the event of public power outage. The details of this requirement for all the airports are contained in this report.

49. In concert with NAMA, remote control monitoring systems for nay-aids and airfied lighting should be made available urgently for all airports by FAAN. This is to ensure that air traffic controllers can operate these services from the control tower as required by ICAO.

50. NCAA should urgently implement a comprehensive oversight programme for airport security inspections and patrol.

The Task Force observed that airport security measures are not adequate. The screening of passengers and cargo is not rigorous enough, while miscreants are still present at the airports. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of effective area security at the airports. It is thus necessary that NCAA specifies standards in terms of personnel and equipment for airport security and ensure compliance.

51. NCAA/NAMA should create a joint office at the airport where clearance of aircraft will be made and ensure requisite staff can be reached on 24-hour basis.

It is observed that the process of obtaining civil clearance or filing of flight plan for unscheduled flight into and out of Nigeria is cumbersome. There is an unduly long and delayed bureaucratic process, which stretches the process unnessarily. Most airlines thus lose charter offers that are required urgently.

52. NAMA should ensure that air traffic controllers comply with the approved time of 10 minutes before arrival and 10 minutes after departure for closure of airport during VIP movements.

Some of the victims of Dana Plane crash: Fatokun and daughter, Olusola Arokoya, Ajuonuma, Onita, Ike Abugu and Kunbi

Loss of revenue to airlines

Long period of closure of airports creates unsafe situations as the risk of aircraft running out of fuel or bumping into each other is heightened. It also causes huge loss of revenue to airlines.

57. NAMA should train enough personnel to man the radars at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) on 24-hour basis. Currently the radars at these airports are not manned at nights and on weekends due to low requisite manpower disposition. These radars should be manned 24 hours for the safe direction of aircraft and for monitoring purposes.

58. NIMET should set up a Web-side, and provide telephone lines for weather inquiry. NIMET should also create meteorology (MET) briefing office at local airports. This is to ensure availability of information as and when needed. An office has already been set up at Ikeja. This should be extended to other airports.

59. All aviation agencies should develop in-house maintenance manuals. This will serve as a standard against which maintenance performance levels could be measured at any given time.

The Task Force established that most of the agencies did not have their own maintenance manuals. These manuals spell out clearly the type of maintenance task to be undertaken, when or how frequently it should be undertaken, and how or the correct way of doing the tasks. Maintenance manuals are, therefore, necessary and they serve as a standard against which performance levels can be checked.

60. Aviation agencies should develop a careful mix of in-house and out-sourced maintenance of their equipment/facilities.

Over dependence on either in-house, or out-sourced maintenance should be avoided. Accordingly, while routine preventive maintenance tasks such as cleaning and grass cutting should, as much as possible be done in-house while higher order maintenance should be out-sourced preferably, to the manufacturer or the manufacturer's representative.

In the case of periodic main tenance, a proper, balance between in-house and out-sourced maintenance should be achieved. The tasks should be organised to facilitate development of in-house, middle-level, maintenance capability which can be deployed with greater flexibility. Where maintenance is out-sourced, it should be on competitive basis, to ensure transparency, and value for money.

61. All aviation agencies should dedicate the required 10 per cent of annual budgetary expenditure towards technical manpower development and training.

Manpower training and development is the key to aviation development. The staff should be re-trained regularly, properly motivated, and adequately catered for. Not to do so can only jeopardise/compromise delivery of the desired quality service. Staff of the agencies complained of lack of training and poor conditions of service.

62. NCAA should enforce the regulations as published in the Air Navigation Regulations by ensuring that crew/operators that exceed their operational limits or operate outside minimum equipment list (MEL) are appropriately sanctioned.

A stringent sanction would serve as deterrent and thus help check the observed malpractices of crew and airlines that operate below safety standards. NCAA's enforcement of relevant regulations would also ensure that the industry inculcate a culture of standardisation.

63. NCAA should introduce human factor and Multi-Crew Concept (MCT) training for licensing. Flight crew errors are probably the most frequent causes of air accidents. Human factor and crew resource management training are meant to orient the flight crew on the limitations of man, cockpit behaviour, and on human-machine interface.

Human-machine interface

It is a new field of study to which most Nigerian crew are not exposed, hence the need for a crew to undergo the training, and subsequently conduct refresher courses. Facilities for the training are present in Nigeria, so the financial strain may not be too much on the airlines.

64. NCAA should ensure that foreign pilots joining the Nigerian aviation industry for the first time undergo additional training on local flying conditions in Nigeria.

This is a familiarisation course necessary to acquaint the crew with the general environment, that is, climate, terrain/topography and language of the country. Some pilots may not be English speaking and thus will have communication problem.

65. NOAA should conduct random test for drugs/alcohol levels for aviation personnel on duty.

Alcohol and drugs impair human reasoning and could lead to adverse behaviour. It is thus necessary that all aviation organisations address and guard against all factors that constitute negative tendencies in human efficiency.

66. The agencies should be restructured for optimum performance by injecting qualified core professionals with relevant academic qualification into their aviation departments.

The current dearth of qualified professionals is a limiting factor to effective performance. This would re-position them for quality service delivery.

67. Government should re-visit the recent retrenchment exercise carried out by the agencies.

The Task Force received many cases of premature and unjust retirement of personnel in the ministry and agencies. This has the potential of demoralizing the staff as some are not sure of their fate. It also robs the agencies of trained hands that would otherwise be available.

68.FAAN should upgrade all the local airports to meet the desired CAO standards. The estimated cost as compiled by the Task Force is as follows:

a) Bauchi - N214,846,127.25

b) Benin - N493,066,745.00

c) Calabar - N612,243,302.50

d) Enugu - N637,278,832.63

e) Ibadan - N690,133,680.43

f) Ilorin - N892,346,615.00

g) Jos - N557,828,085.63

h) Kaduna - N975,171,328.37

I) Katsina - N749,801,477.80

j) Maiduguri - N646,956,336.00

k) Minna - N494,007,676.13

l) Sokoto - N775,592,842.00

m) Yola - N524,457,600.50

This would improve the safety and security of the airports. It would also renew/upgrade infrastructure at all the airports and facilitate development on new routes as the necessary facilities would be readily available. It will be an incentive for route re-alignment to reduce pressure on the lucrative routes.

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