To ensure strict adherence to regulations and safety in air operations, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has introduced measures to eliminate the excesses of airlines.
Airlines on scheduled service are no more allowed to defer aircraft maintenance dates and are mandated to retrain their pilots, engineers and cabin crew on a regular basis.
In the past the regulatory body used to grant waivers to airlines which may have logistic and other reasons not to go for checks when due, but the new measures have erased such possibilities. So with the new rules any aircraft due for maintenance that is not ferried out is grounded by the authorities.
Also a pilot may have his licence withdrawn if he fails to go for simulator training at the scheduled time, same with medical checkup.
THISDAY learnt that the new stance of NCAA was prompted by the last air crash which was attributed in part to negligence by the concerned authorities, as the aircraft according to initial report was deemed not air worthy to fly.
NCAA source said that although the Ministry of Aviation has it as policy that the maximum years an aircraft that should be allowed to register and be used for commercial scheduled services is 22 years, but to ensure that the aircraft is safe, the regulatory body has to ensure that any aircraft flying in the nation's airspace is airworthy.
"The 22 years maximum for a commercial aircraft is a policy from the Ministry of Aviation. We have not received anything to the contrary, but we have to ensure that the aircraft is properly maintained and whatever we cannot do in Nigeria, we do it outside."
The source revealed that the new measures are aimed at ensuring that Nigeria does not record any air mishap, especially anyone involving commercial airliner.
"To ensure strict adherence to regulations, we have decided to put an end to waivers, which means that aircraft is taken out any time it is due for maintenance.
"These rules were there before but what is important is enforcement. We have decided to enforce the rules to the letter. In the past people sound tough in public statements but do another thing. This time it is different," the source said.
He admitted that incidents could happen but serious incident would be rare, adding that there would still be human shortcomings because the system is not perfect.
"Incidents will happen because the system is not perfect. In NCAA welfare is still an issue. Some workers earn better than their bosses and for the senior officers, they see their work as a sacrifice and this could sometimes affect dedication," he said, adding that it would be better if Nigerian airlines operate modern aircraft which would be good for the passengers and the industry but aged aircraft that is airworthy is as good as new aircraft.
Although older aircraft guzzles more fuel and add to the cost of operation, according to the executive chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria, Captain Nogie Meggison, our source said: "Aircraft does not have age restriction. It is either airworthy or not."