Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
By Chinedu Eze
Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, has invited the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO) to assist the country in carrying out technical and financial audit of Nigeria’s airlines just as the world body condemned the hasty decisions by government over the Dana Air crash which killed 153 persons on board on June 3.
Earlier, the Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler, had reasoned that “Safety is a constant challenge everywhere in the world,” adding that “In Nigeria, as elsewhere, this important work must continue without political interference.”
ICAO, THISDAY learnt, had frowned at the comments credited to top elected officials of government, who wished to take actions and decision before investigation is carried out to know the cause of the crash. Informed source said that before an airline that lost an aircraft in such a tragic accident like the Dana Air crash is punished, like the withdrawal of its operational certificate, investigations must have been carried out, abiding by the ICAO Annex 13, which accident investigation is. “The things the international aviation body expects include compliance with ICAO recom- mendations as a sovereign state; investigation of the crash before actions and decisions are taken; identification of the cause of the crash, and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) will investigate the accident, identify the primary and secondary causes of the crash and send their recommendations to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for implementation,” the source said.
The aviation expert said the withdrawal of Dana Air opera- tor licence “was an overkill be- cause what the regulatory body should do is to first ground the fleet of the airline, carry out maintenance investigation and if there is clean bill you certify the existing aircraft to continue operations. This was done when Air France had a crash in New York and even the one that happened in 2009 that over 300 passengers were sucked into the sea.”
The source said Nigeria should abide by due dili- gence and international best practices, adding that when there is accident the airline is expected to come out with its maintenance schedule and expose everything about the aircraft “and the truth will kill all the insinuations. The Federal Government should ensure that safety management system is initiated and it is not expected to preempt the cause of the accident but it should carry out immediately the audit of other existing operators.”
On Monday in Abuja, Oduah said government would invite ICAO to provide Nigeria with special assistance and sup- port to urgently undertake a thorough technical and safety oversight of the aircraft and airlines operating in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, NCAA will be strengthened and supported by an internationally accred- ited financial auditor, Messrs PricewaterHouseCoopers (PwC), who we have invited to undertake the financial audit of all domestic airlines in line with Nigeria Civil Aviation Act of 2006 and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation.