By Chinedu Eze

Three Nigerian airlines have successfully obtained International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit Certification, known as IOSA.
They are Arik Air, Aero Contractors and FirstNation Airways.
IOSA is international safety standard which is given to an airline by IATA after it has been audited and met the recommended safety standard of the world aviation body and according to statistics, there is less number of air accidents involving airlines with IOSA certification compared to others without the certification.
In 2012, ministers from African countires agreed that all airlines operating in Africa must obtain IOSA as a prerequisite to operate in the continent and deadline was given as end of 2015.

This agreement is known as Abuja Declaration because the Ministers of Transport of various countries met at the Nigeria’s Federal Capital to endorse this agreement, but since then not many airlines operating in the region have met this given criterion.
IATA has however initiated a programme to assist airlines from the continent to meet the safety standard that will enable them comply with the safety requirements for IOSA certification.

Some other Nigerian airlines at the verge of attaining IOSA certification include Allied Air and Cargo services, Overland Airways and Dana Air, while Air Peace, which is a new airline has done its last workshop but is about to be audited.
This disclosure was made when IATA team led by the newly appointed Regional Director for Africa, Tanja Grobotek, paid familiarisation visit to the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Muhtar Usman, at the authority’s headquarters in Lagos at the weekend.

Grobotek, during the meeting, vehemently condemned Consumer Protection Council’s (CPC) incursion into aviation regulatory responsibilities of the NCAA with reference to the recent issue of passengers’ complaint with Turkish Airlines.
She promised that IATA would take up the matter with the Minister of State for Aviation for proper delineation of the agency’s roles to avoid a breach of aviation protocols in Nigeria saying, ‘’a situation whereby our member airlines that are by international conventions answerable to NCAA are now being questioned by another body in Nigeria is confusing and need to be addressed.’’

While commending NCAA for a long-standing collaboration with IATA on operational safety, she expressed optimism in seeing more airlines obtain IOSA certification, which would be a boost to the industry.
She also hinted that there are roundtable conferences on the impacts of environment on aviation under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) billed for March 10, 2016 in which Nairobi and Nigeria have been tipped in Africa to host.
Other issues discussed include proposed meeting with upcoming operators in order to raise their safety level and also on the need for transition from Aeronautical Information System (AIS) to Aeronautical Information Management (AIM)

IATA Area Manager (South West Africa), Samson Fatokun who accompanied the visiting Regional Director also stated that there are training programmes lined up for NCAA by IATA this year which he hopes would be approved by the authority.
The Director General of NCAA, Usman, in his response, thanked the IATA team for their visit and expressed willingness to partner the international body on issues of safety, security and training.
Meanwhile, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) to order over its directive to terminate all contracts with Bristow Helicopters over the ditching of its Sikorsky type machine.
In a statement issued by the national president of the union, Okewu Benjamin, the association questioned the authority and grounds on which NAPIMS gave that directive.
Okewu argued that the technical audit of the NCAA being carried out was standard procedure used all over the world when an airline or operator is involved in two or more air accidents within a short spate of time.

“NAPIMS is only but a corporate service unit of the exploration and production Directorate on the NNPC and has not the power to act instead of the regulator, NCAA,” Okewu said.