By Chinedu Eze
After months of remedial work and remodeling of facilities at the Murtala Muahmmed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has certified the nationâ€™s busiest airport for meeting global safety and security standards as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
This is the first international airport out of the four that would be certified in the next few weeks; the others are the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
With the certification, the Lagos airport would now be cited among the standard airports in the world and airlines, which hitherto could not operate to the airport due to lack of categorisation can now operate to the airport.
The certification is also expected to bring down insurance premium on Nigerian airlines and the airports, as insurers describe the Nigerian operational environment as hostile but the certification shows that the airport and the other international airports that would soon be certified have met all safety and security standards in tandem with other major airports in the world.
Speaking at the event in Lagos yesterday, the Director-General of NCAA, Muhtar Usman, said the current drive towards the certification of Nigerian airports was very significant not only as a requirement by the ICAO and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, but even more importantly asÂ Â one of the critical safety targets set by the Abuja Ministerial Declaration of July 2012, that mandated all African states to certify their international airports.
â€œThe certification is an enabler for the attainment of a regional hub which Nigeria desires for Lagos and Abuja. It is an enabler for airports in its territory to meet regulatory safety requirements on a continous basis, and that it is providing uniform conditions for safe and efficient operation of aircraft from all other States, as required by Article 15 of the Chicago Convention.
â€œAerodrome Certification is therefore an ICAO strategy for the standardisation and harmonisation of airport services, facilities and procedures, as well as ensuring uniformity in safety critical aerodrome elements irrespective of differences in ownership and management of such aerodromes,â€Â Usman said.
He also said that the certification would assist states to effectively implement the critical elements of a safety oversight system in accordance with Annex 14 Vol. I, and other relevant ICAO specifications.
Usman noted that the certification would signify to aircraft operators and other organisations operating at the aerodrome that, at the time of certification, the aerodrome meets the specifications regarding its facilities and operations, and that it has, according to the certifying authority, the capability to maintain these specifications for the period of validity of the certificate.
He remarked that NCAA is required to immediately commence the implementation of a post certification surveillance plan for the continuous monitoring of airport services, facilities, procedures and manpower levels to ensure that the Acceptable Level of Safety is not infringed on.
The Director of NCAA said:â€Â In the regulatory bodyâ€™s Â safety oversight responsibilities, it would ensure compliance with ICAO and national regulations at all times, and where necessary, sanctions would be imposed or certificate suspended to enforce compliance with standards.â€
Similarly, FAAN has the utmost responsibility of operating the Murtala Muhammed Airport in accordance with ICAO standards and recommended practices, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, as well as any special conditions on which the certificate is issued.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is also required to promptly notify the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority of any changes in aerodrome services, facilities, procedures or staffing levels that can affect the certification of the aerodrome.