Chairman of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dele Ore
Since after the Dana Air flight crash on June 3, 2012, which killed 153 people on board, some industry operators are of the view that there has not been any discernible change that indicates efforts to prevent future accidents.
In fact, experts who spoke to THISDAY on Wednesday said that the major problem the industry currently had was poor regulation; that accident might still occur as there was no effective action to prevent that from happening.
A seasoned pilot who has operated in Nigeria for years disclosed to THISDAY that there was laxity in the regulation of private jets; that some of them registered as private jets operate commercial services in form of charter without being subjected to the rigorous processes, which airlines licensed as charter operators are subjected to, noting that this is dangerous for safety.
“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) cannot say that it does not know because this has been going on for years and private jets are meant for the owner, his family and friends, but when you use it for charter you are contravening the regulation and this threatens safety because your aircraft maintenance is not monitored the way that of airlines in the charter business are monitored,” the pilot said.
Although, it has been said variously that old airplanes are as good as new when they are properly maintained but these experts pointed out that the problem with old aircraft in Nigeria was that they are not properly maintained; there are a lot of compromises and because Nigeria does not have maintenance facility, some of the airlines may not maintain these aircraft when they are due.
“You cannot believe it that in spite of all these we have been saying, NCAA issued licence to airline with very old aircraft, even when they know that maintaining of these aircraft has been a challenge to us. Nothing is wrong with old aircraft but you have to maintain them as frequently as they demand. How can you approve and licence an airline that brought in 21-year-old aircraft, just one year behind the stipulated 22 years when we are clamouring for modern aircraft?” the source queried.
Chairman of Aviation Round Table (ART) Dele Ore, on Wednesday said that it would be difficult to carry out effective oversight functions when there is lack of strong regulatory authority, adding that to avoid accidents in future, NCAA must have to strengthen its regulatory function.
Another source told THISDAY, “Poor regulation has caused lack of confidence among passengers and this is because we have not seen any particular change since the last accident and I was thinking that by now the initial cause of the accident of the Dana Air flight crash should have been released by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). Now passengers fly with fear. You need to see how they react to ordinary turbulence because of the fear they have that the aircraft they are in could crash at any time.”
But NCAA said that it cannot deliberately allow privately owned jets to carry out commercial operation, describing that as illegal which attracts serious sanctions, adding that commercial operators and private aircraft operators have different licences and different procedures.
“The licenses are different and there is serious sanction for anybody that violates that regulation because such action is illegal. People might be doing it but if we see that person he will be seriously sanctioned. We cannot be everywhere so when people notice such they should inform us,” NCAA official told THISDAY