Why Experts Fear Airlines May Compromise Safety in Nigeria

Chinedu Eze

Although Nigerian airlines have not recorded any major accident in the last three years because of what aviation experts attributed to proper regulation by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), there are renewed fears that some domestic carriers may compromise safety.

This, according to some experts was because the airlines have not really imbibed the safety culture; rather, but only obey regulation by the NCAA to avoid being sanctioned.

One of the experts told THISDAY that major air crashes could occur because many of the airlines do not have safety structure of their own and the technical personnel that constitute their safety management only strive to abide by NCAA regulations without intrinsic safety culture.

This, the source said unless the NCAA inculcates in the airlines the ability to maintain safety without supervision and ensures that airlines abide by the high safety standard, safety standard could still be comprised, which may eventually lead in accident.

The expert observed that many countries including South Africa have operated for over 10 years without major accidents involving commercial airliners and this is because the airlines have imbibed safety culture and therefore needed minimum supervision.

“If you trace the many accidents that have happened in Nigeria some of them had to do with the failure of the airlines to adhere strictly to safety culture. So the major implication to safety is the poor orientation of the airlines management to safety culture. What most of the airlines are doing is to carry out NCAA regulation without cultivating the safety standard for their airlines. The situation is even more difficult now that those old experienced ex-Nigeria Airways technical personnel are old and retiring. They replacements are at best mediocre, especially those expatriate who come to Africa on their own to look for jobs,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac has commended African airlines for their improvement in safety record, but noted that for the region to extend this level of safety standard could be a challenge.

“Last year, sub-Saharan Africa realised an important safety milestone. There were no jet hull losses in the region. Extending this great performance into the long-term will be a challenge. Airlines must continue the commitment to the IOSA discipline. And governments must continue to raise their levels of adherence to the global standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). In contrast to the progress in Africa, we have taken a step back in air accident investigations. They are mandated by Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention for good reason. Every accident represents an opportunity to learn more about making aviation even safer.

Also, the Vice-President of IATA, Africa, Raphael Kuchi commended African airlines, disclosing that more African airlines have obtained the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) but regretted that as some African airlines are entering IOSA registry, others are losing it.

“To start with, traffic is continuing to grow and IATA 20 year forecast indicates that Africa is going to be the fastest growing region in the next 20-35 years and about 5.1 percent growth year in year out. In addition to that, I am sure you all read the media release of IATA about our safety record in Africa which is unprecedented with zero losses for last year.

That is also very impressive. We have also got a number of African airlines, which have now come onboard IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). In the same breath what I have to say on that is that we have also lost a number of airlines in the IOSA register. So while we gained five last year we also lost five for sub-Sahara Africa,” Kuchi said.

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