The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, has said the United State Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has commenced the re-assessment of the safety status of Nigeria's aviation industry and the level of compliance with international practices.
Usman who disclosed this to journalists yesterday at the agency's headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) Lagos, expressed optimism that the country would once again scale the hurdle, stressing that the regulatory agency was prepared to retain the Category One status it attained in 2010.
The attainment of Category One Safety status enabled Nigerian registered airlines to operate to the US and for US airlines to operate to Nigeria.
Usman recalled that Nigeria attained the new status in 2010 and retained it in 2014 after a comprehensive audit of the industry.
The NCAA director-general disclosed that the FAA team would focus its audit on Personnel Licencing, International Operations and Airworthiness, which he assured stakeholders that the agency was fully prepared for.
He stressed that the FAA team would be in the country for the next five days after which they would make their observations known through a report that would be sent to the authority after the exercise.
"NCAA has done a lot in the areas that we are expected to cover and not only for this audit, in our statutory responsibilities; safety, aviation security and also regulations. We have the new civil aviation bill, which is on its way to the National Assembly. The bill is to enhance the current Act of 2006 and it is supposed to be in line with the new annexes of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention. We also amended our regulation, which is 2015 Civil Aviation Regulation.
"Re-organisation has also been going on to make sure the organisation continues to discharge its responsibilities as it should be which is to be in line with ICAO. We want to continue to attract and retain qualified personnel in the industry in sufficient numbers to make sure we carry out safety as required by ICAO," Usman said.
He said in the area of enforcement and compliance, "we have done a lot. We make sure that our regulations, which are mainly safety, are enforced. Our sanctions are not supposed to be punitive, but corrective. We have been sanctioning where we need to sanction in order to correct and instill safety in the system and even security.
We thank God in the last two years we never had any major accident. There is zero tolerance in accident at NCAA."
The FAA team is led by Mr. Louis Avrez, International Technical Support; William Amoz, Aviation Safety Inspector; Benjamin Garrido, Frontline Manager Airworthiness, and L.P. Vanstory Ill, International Affairs.
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