Aviation Industry Faces Severe Challenges


Chinedu Eze

The Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler has said the aviation industry is battling with a lot of challenges but is resilient enough to survive them.

Tyler made this known in Copenhagen, Denmark at this year’s Ops conference, noting that there have been tragic events that have challenged aviation in recent times.

He said there is no manual for sudden tragic events like the one that happened at Brussels airport in Belgium few weeks ago, “but as an industry we have had to become expert at managing around shocks in an era marked by terrorist attacks that have frequently targeted aviation; airspace closures from natural disasters to epidemics and risks in the air from conflicts on the ground.”

Tyler said each of these problems has presented “us with new challenges to be surmounted. Yet, there are still some reliable guideposts. As an industry, the safety and security of our passengers and crew is always paramount. And we are making strong progress in this regard.”

He said according to the 2015 IATA Safety Report, the global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.32, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 3.1 million flights and noted that this was a 30 per cent improvement compared to the previous five-year rate of 0.46 hull losses per million jet flights, adding that although we work hard to prevent any loss of life, the industry experienced four fatal hull loss accidents in 2015 – all involving turboprop aircraft – with a total of 136 fatalities. This compares positively with an average of 17.6 fatal accidents and 504 fatalities per year in the previous five-year period.

“I must qualify this figure, because two tragedies—the losses of Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268—are not included in the totals, as they were deliberate events, not accidents. Indeed, 2015 is similar to 2014 in this regard. If you look at the last two years, the industry’s safety performance has been affected primarily by events that could be previously classified as almost “unthinkable”.

There are no easy solutions to the issues that were revealed in each of these tragedies; however, aviation continues to work to minimize the risk that such events will happen again. As an industry, we have become very good at applying lessons learned via a systematic, well-researched, collaborative process, based on global standards and best practices.

“This has been the industry’s modus operandi for decades and it has helped to make aviation the safest form of long-distance travel the world has ever known. This process will guide us in understanding the causes of our most recent tragic accident, FlyDubai 981. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those lost,” Tyler said.

He said the global standards are vital to sustaining safety improvements. This is shown in the performance of airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry, noting that last year the total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA-registered carriers was nearly three times as good as the rate for non-IOSA carriers (1.14. vs. 3.23); and over the five years 2010-2014, the rate is more than three times better (1.48 v s. 4.99).

“In 2015 IOSA was successfully transitioned from a snapshot of compliance to a continuous management process across the two-year audit cycle. A focus in 2016 will be to ensure the highest standards of quality assurance in the audit process are being maintained.
As part of managing operations in a changing world, we have had to become far more effective at ensuring public confidence in our industry. The Ops Conference is a technical gathering. But the success of many of our challenges are as dependent upon effective communications as they are on technical expertise,” Tyler added.

In the area of infrastructure, Tyler said by 2034, the number of air travelers would reach 7 billion annually.

“We can only accommodate this doubling of demand for connectivity if we have adequate infrastructure in place. Yet progress is lagging in many parts of the world.
We have found the technical answers to delivering greater efficiency and safety with big change programs like the Single European Sky (SES) and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen. But we have not been able to muster the political will or funding to achieve either in a meaningful timeframe,” he said.

Tyler noted that the European Commission has understood the importance of SES to an industry that supports 12 million European jobs and contributes 4.1 per cent to European GDP.

“But it seems to be taken for granted that this industry will somehow just deliver on these benefits, even if treated by governments with, at best, benign neglect. And at the state level, the narrow and misguided interests of controllers have prevailed over those of the hundreds of millions of European travelers and the broader economy.

This year we have launched a new approach with a study outlining the economic costs of failing to deliver much needed airspace modernization in Europe. And it’s a big number—some EUR 245 billion in 2035 alone. It’s our collective duty to make sure that number is top of mind with politicians, consumers, chambers of commerce and individual businesses. If this continent reaches 2035 missing that EUR 245 billion, it will be a quality of life issue for every European,” he said.

In the area of regulation, Tyler said it was the area where “our industry has an opportunity to help shape the discussion. Let me be clear that the industry does not oppose sensible, well thought-out regulation, developed with participation from all stakeholders. Indeed, regulation, advanced in partnership with industry, and based on global standards developed through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) process.

“This a cornerstone of our success in making aviation so safe. But over the past few years we have seen states introduce new requirements that are not based on a data-driven, risk-based approach and that create little or no added value,” the IATA DG said.

Government May Introduce New Visa Regime to Attract Tourists

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stressed the need for a new flexible visa policy that would help attract tourists into Nigeria.

Speaking in Lagos recently, Mohammed emphasised that it has become imperative to overhaul the Nigerian visa policies and other challenges militating against the growth of tourism in the country.
He said there is the need to train officials at the country’s border post to be more tourism friendly in order to promote tourism growth.

Mohammed said the process of getting Nigerian visa abroad is too cumbersome and too rigorous as it would not help in encouraging the growth of tourism.

The minister cited the example of Ghana that has concluded arrangements to introduce visa on arrival, which is a step towards boosting tourism.

He also observed the need for accurate tourism statistics for reference and planning purposes.

Futhermore, he noted that the Calabar Carnival could compete favourably with other international carnivals abroad because if it was  better organised in terms of decency, and quality, adding that the carnival is worthy of international promotion and marketing abroad to attract tourists to Nigeria.
He therefore called for the collaboration of the different tourism stakeholders in different ministries like Interior, National Security, Aviation, Immigration and others to turn the country’s tourism fortunes around.

He said the country is going to witness improvement in tourism infrastructure so as to drive traffic, including the need to also get the stakeholders involved.

The Minister observed that despite the challenges of poor infrastructure, location of some of the tourism attractions in remote areas and all that, “we know what to do grow tourism and what to put on ground to develop our creative industry.

Mohammed promised that the government would provide the enabling environment for tourists, especially religious tourists coming into the country for different church programmes like that of Synagogue and others for spiritual purposes so that they can continue coming again and again.
The Minister also disclosed that the National Theatre would remain the property of the federal government.

Mohammed noted that this Administration is diversifying the economy away from oil, which for many years has been the mainstay of the country’s economy.
According to him, “Among the sectors that have been identified as veritable sources of revenue for the nation are the Arts, Culture and Tourism Sectors. This is why we in the Ministry of Information and Culture are working hard to move these sectors from the margins to the mainstream and ensure that the rural poor in particular are factored into the Sector’s architecture.”

Dispatcher Advocates Greater Awareness for the Profession

A Licensed Aircraft Dispatcher and Ground Instructor with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Mrs. Victoria Adegbe, has called on the federal government and industry stakeholders to accord more respect and awareness for the job of aircraft dispatch as a key profession in the sector that plays a crucial role in the safety and efficiency of any flight.

Speaking at the official launch of the book titled; “Dispatch Made Easy: An Aircraft Dispatch Handbook,” which she authored, Adegbe noted that unknown to so many, the Dispatcher is the one who essentially plans and ensures the smooth operation of a flight by checking the weather and deciding the safest flight path taking into account wind direction at destination or alternate airports, deciding on the amount of fuel to carry, the maximum baggage that can be safely airlifted, and advise pilots if conditions or paths change. Asked why she embarked on writing such a book, Adegbe remarked that during her training at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), there were no books of this nature written by a Nigerian that she could refer to as a resource material.

Chairman of the occasion, Capt. Data Tarfa, Captain, Presidential Air Fleet/ Former Fleet Capt, Nigeria Airways, noted that the job of the Dispatcher and his role to the safety of a flight cannot be over emphasised. He said the Dispatcher is the one who determines if an aircraft will be released for flight or not based on his assessment of all the necessary parameters required for safe operations. “This book is not only timely and useful for future generations, but comes as a challenge for many of us who were unable to put down our experience in a book like Victoria has done today,” he stressed.

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Saleh Dunoma, was represented at the occasion by the Director of Administration, Mr. Ikechi Uko. He commended Mrs. Adegbe for the brilliant work in putting together such a book in an easy to read, qualitative and informative manner. Similarly, Mr. Sam Onwutuebe, Operations Control Manager, DANA Air, said being a Dispatcher himself, he is proud of the effort made by the author and expressed optimism that this will contribute in no small way in transforming the profession form one confined to a room in an airline office to receiving the recognition it duly deserves.

Commenting on the job of the Dispatcher, the Senior Vice President – Operations/Deputy Managing Director, Arik Air, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said: “He is the Captain on Ground. He makes all the decisions and then gives the captain the brief. He decides the route that the airplane will follow, he decides the flight level, he decides the fuel that he will take, he decides the speed that he will fly, he decides a lot for the captain and he briefs the captain. So he works very closely with the flight crew and he is an integral part of the flight crew actually. So, the Dispatcher is a very essential aspect of conducting a safe flight from point A to B.”

BEDC Signs Pact with Govt to Reconnect Ondo South

Twenty months after towns and communities in the Ondo South senatorial district were disconnected from the power grid, an agreement between the state government and the Benin Electricity Distribution Plc (BEDC) was on Tuesday signed to reconnect affected communities.

This was contained in a statement issued by BEDC on Wednesday.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, signed on behalf of the Ondo State government, while the Chief state head, Ondo and Ekiti States of the BEDC, Mr.  Ernest Edgar, signed on behalf of the BEDC at a ceremony held in the office of the SSG, Government House, Akure.

Speaking shortly before the signing, Adelola said the signing was the first step in ensuring that power is restored to hundreds of affected communities in the southern parts of the state, assuring that the state government would fulfill its part of the agreement with the BEDC.

He described the day as a new dawn in the lives of the people of Ondo South, appealing to the management of the BEDC not to renege on the terms of the agreement  by restoring power to the communities as soon as possible.

In his remarks, Edgar assured the state government of the preparedness of BEDC to restore power to the area starting with Odigbo Local Government Area in April and the remaining local government areas in the months to come.

He expressed satisfaction that over the resolution of the problems that led to the disconnection such as a debt of about N1.9 billion, vandalism of power installations and non payment of bills, assuring that an enduring procedure has been worked out to ensure that bills are reconciled and paid.

He said parts of the past issues sorted out with the state government included the payment of 50 per cent post privatisation bills by the community, how to safeguard power installations and safety of BEDC workers operating in the areas.

The chairman of Odigbo Local Government Area, Hon E.O. Oshati, who signed on behalf of the council, said he has talked to members of council and that that they were full of expectations and willing to cooperate with the BEDC.

He said, “I want to assure you that our people are ready. They will surprise the BEDC with the way the will pay their bills. They are ready to protect BECD properties in their domains and are tired of living in darkness.”