Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah
To avoid possible air crashes in future, operators are demanding that the Federal Government should urgently recruit seasoned expatriates to serve as air worthiness safety inspectors in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as it is obvious that the Authority suffers from inadequate hands in the area.
Aircraft inspectors determine the air worthiness of aircraft and approve their operations so they are a vital part of civil aviation regulation but unfortunately there are few Nigerians qualified in this area and many of them have been poached by international airlines and organisations, especially pilots.
An inside source in one of the major domestic carriers told THISDAY on Monday that many Nigerians who are in the regulatory body doing this job are either old and would retire soon or are not abreast of the latest development in aircraft technology so they would soon give way and when they do there would be a vacuum.
To avoid the vacuum, the sources suggested that Nigeria should recruit expatriates in the interim who would be doing the job until those indigenes being trained by NCAA are qualified to take over.
“We should recruit expatriates on air worthiness and inspection. The number of aircraft and type available, the number of flights and number of professionals that need to be checked and recertified are on the increase. There are new innovation and technology being used in aviation, which the current manpower in NCAA cannot manage. So the body cannot effectively regulate the industry with the current manpower.”
The source suggested that there was need to replace the ageing manpower with young ones who are already in training, “but we need some people to fill in the gap within the next 24 months.”
“In every field when you realise that you have shortfall of manpower, you fill in the gap. So we need to bring expatriates to maintain the safety standard,” the source added.
The industry operator said that Nigeria could talk to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) or Transport Canada to assist the country in providing the desired manpower during the interlude as NCAA intensified efforts to train more Nigerians.
But NCAA source also observed that there was paucity of technical hands in aviation in the world, so the situation is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that NCAA has been training many Nigerians in these technical areas.
“It is not only in Nigeria that these people are lacking, everywhere. They lack inspectors, especially pilots and that is why the Minister of Aviation is trying to affiliate the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria to big aviation institutions overseas so that the school would produce more pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers with high end certificates and higher qualifications.”