Following the frequent aircraft incidents in the nation's aviation industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said it will conduct an economic and safety audit of the domestic airlines to determine the state of health of their aircraft.
NCAA also threatened to shut down any airline that is found to owe its staff arrears of salaries, saying that efforts will be geared towards encouraging the operators to cooperate by interlining their services.
The director-general of the NCAA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, disclosed this to journalists in Lagos yesterday during a press briefing on the incident involving the IRS Airline Fokker100 aircraft that crash-landed at the Kaduna Airport on Sunday.
Akinkuotu, who said the report on the issue was misrepresented, said what happened to the airline was not an emergency but an abnormal situation, insisting that the flight landed safely.
On the issue of safety of flight operations in the country, Akinkuotu said NCAA will ensure that airlines adopt the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) which will improve their safety oversights on aircraft.
He said, "We have written and interacted with the airlines, if we have information on any airline that is not paying its staff we will stop them from operating.
"We will audit all airlines to ensure the complete validation of the airlines with a foreign firm. We will put in place IOSA audit as a way of going forward to ensure their systems are tidy."
On issues of training and financial health of the NCAA, Akinkuotu said the regulatory authority is not broke, adding that the regulatory body is meeting up with the training of its members of staff.
But the IRS Airline chairman, Alhaji Rabiu Isiayaku Rabiu, who spoke briefly over the Kaduna incident, claimed that his airline has been operating safely for the past 12 years and called for prayers for the industry.
However, the NCAA boss did not allow him to answer questions on the allegation that his airline is owing staff arrears of salaries and the state of his aircraft.
Fashola to FG: punish those behind Nigeria's aviation woes
Amid plane crashes and recurring emergency landings in the country that has made the nation's air travellers jittery, Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) yesterday called on the federal government to punish those discovered to have compromised standards in the aviation industry.
Fashola, who stated this yesterday when the air officer commanding, Logistic Command, Nigerian Air Force, Ikeja, Air Vice Marshal Monday Morgan, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Alausa, said the casualties from the nation's aviation woes were huge.
He said it is only by punishing erring officials in the sector that government will demonstrate value for the lives of air passengers and to ensure that safety standards are strictly adhered to at all times in the industry.
He said," The aviation industry is under public scrutiny now, which is safety in the sky. I want to use this medium to appeal to you and your colleagues in the aviation sector on what is needed to be done in order to improve upon safety in that area.
"So that when people board an aircraft from the country, they must feel confident that nothing unusual will happen. We know that the aircraft are mechanical devices and mechanical devices can fail. But there is a protocol for keeping mechanical devices operational and functional."
Responding, Air Vice Marshal Morgan blamed lack of necessary infrastructure like radar as one of the major reasons for the frequent air crashes in the country.
Flight resumes at Kaduna airport
Meanwhile, air flight operations have resumed at the Kaduna International Airport, 24 hours after a Kaduna-bound Fokker plane belonging to IRS carrying a total of 94 passengers crash-landed at the airport.
Our correspondent who was at the airport yesterday reports that only Aero Contractors and Arik Air were allowed to fly while Chachangi Airlines could not fly due to technical problems.
Sources at the airport told our correspondent that "IRS flight was suspended from flying alongside Chachangi Airlines which has been having some technical problems."
Passengers who had their Chachangi flight tickets were seen purchasing Aero and Arik Air tickets.
The Chachangi aircraft 5N-BMB Boeing 737 was seen parked while maintenance work was carried on the plane. Refund was made for the IRS passengers.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP at the Arrival wing of the airport, an Aero passenger, Dr. Monday Maigari, lamented the state of the aviation sector in the country.