Industry experts have called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to synergise their regulatory and investigation activities to ensure that the nation’s airspace is safe.
There have been brickbats between the two aviation agencies in the past that appeared to have pit them against each other. But industry stakeholders noted that it was inevitable that they work together if Nigeria would continue to maintain good safety record, which it has attained since the last five years.
The last accident recorded involving commercial aircraft in Nigeria was on October 3, 2013, when the Associated Aviation Flight 361 crashed in Lagos.
To ensure that such accident never happened again in Nigeria, the expert urged the agencies to work together towards fortifying the safety of airlines.
Speaking yesterday at the quarterly Business Breakfast Meeting of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), the former Director General, NCAA, Harold Demuren, said the AIB does not have the authority to enforce recommendations but effective communication with NCAA was important.
Demuren, said NCAA must evaluate the safety recommendations issued by AIB, using risk-based approach with consideration of cost and time of implementation.
He hinted that the American aviation regulators and airlines have implemented about 82 percent of safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent US government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation.
He further disclosed that six per cent are about to be implanted and the remaining 12 percent may not be carried out, adding that regulators in other climes would always implement safety recommendations as long as they are the right recommendations and they can save lives.
He said, “It is not the amount of recommendations we make that matters, but the quality of recommendations. A risk-based approach to implementing safety recommendations require good leadership, competence, capability to do it, robust insurance systems and more importantly, effective communication between NCAA and AIB.”
Also speaking at the event, former Managing Director of NAMA, Nnamdi Udoh, said implementing accident investigation recommendations required good leadership.
According to him, aviation security was the greatest challenge that needs to be addressed in the sector.
“Nobody benefits when an airline goes down, so we must do everything to protect the airlines. When you are not sure of the airspace, shut it down. Accident Investigation is a learning process and if Annex 13 wasn’t necessary, it wouldn’t have been written in such a robust manner,” Udoh added.
However, the Corporate Communications Manager of AIB, Tunji Oketunbi, accused the NCAA of keeping serious incidences to itself instead of informing the AIB.
Oketunbi, reiterated that accident investigations by AIB would help prevent future occurrence, adding that AIB is currently the only agency that write things about the industry the way they are.
“AIB does not have the power to implement recommendations but NCAA does but sadly we have seen deficiencies with NCAA and the airlines. AIB and NCAA should know their responsibilities and act accordingly. Safety recommendations must be timely,” he said.
But the Director General, NCAA, Muhtar Usman who was represented at the event, said the accusations that NCAA does not implement safety recommendations was unfounded.
He said when a draft report is sent to the NCAA, the NCAA develops safety action with respect to all the safety recommendations by AIB.