The Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Musa Nuhu has stated that the new civil aviation regulation that stipulates at least six aircraft for start-up airlines was deliberate to ensure the health of any airline that is coming into the aviation industry.
He however admitted that many of the country’s airlines do not have the capacity to meet their current financial obligations.
Nuhu, in a virtual meeting with aviation correspondents late Thursday, said, “If you have three aircraft for instance and you lose one out of it, it has become a problem to meet up with your operations. Then, you start to have issues with flight delays, cancellations, and all that. The number of aircraft you will have will depend on the kind of operations you want to do.”
“You can imagine somebody who comes in with just one or two aircraft and one of the aircraft goes out of business, and sell tickets to the passengers, think of what will happen. For you to have six aircraft, it shows you have very strong financial backgrounds of running an airline.”
He noted that the acquisition of six airplanes is not only for new entrants, stressing that the old ones too have a period by which they have to comply.
“If everybody has one or two aircraft, we will keep having this recurrent problem. We have to avoid that. People will criticize, but every country is different. We have to look at our own peculiar history and try and come up with solutions, but regulations are not cast in stone. If the situation changes, the regulation would be reviewed accordingly. Whenever it is necessary, we don’t have to wait for five years before we make amendments,” he added.
The aviation regulatory he further stated is trying to institutionalise NCAA; make it a proper institution so that the standard across the board is maintained, noting that it is still an ongoing process.
Capt Nuhu took a swipe at those already making wild insinuations of the crash of light aircraft earlier this week in Lagos, noting that it was very unfortunate at a period the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) was yet to conclude its findings on what caused the accident.
He reiterated that the demonization of the Director of Airworthiness of NCAA, Gbolahan Abatan by people he said should know was unfortunate.
“Engr. Gbolahan Abatan has done a great job for us since he came on board. Before he took over the NCAA job, he was doing well as a private entrepreneur and in line with the civil service rules, he resigned properly from Air First Hospitality and Tours. The aircraft in question doesn’t belong to him, but he manages it. I think we should not demonise him for whatever reason.”
Speaking on some milestones achieved in the sector, Capt. Nuhu disclosed that there are more aircraft in Nigeria’s registry than in the entire West African states including the number of airlines, AOC, airports, and companies.
“From records, about 12 years ago, we had only 16 AOCs, right now, we have 32, out of which 12 are scheduled operators. We cannot keep operating the way we are operating. Changes have to come in and we have started the process; we are acquiring regulatory software in the next one or two weeks. We are going to be ready with the software and training of our staff is going to start on the use of the software. It is a three-year programme and at the end of the period, we are going to make sure that 80 to 90 percent of NCAA processes are automated and also the third party is going to be automated.”
He further stated that the new process is a major paradigm shift from paper-based work to automation, adding that they would run into trouble if they don’t do the proper homework.
“You might run into more crises. We are working with a company to ensure we have this. Automation exposes you to cyber risk and so we have developed a manual that enhances cyber security.
“Our technical library, we have made it e-library and with this, any staff of NCAA can log into the library and get the same information wherever he is. All these are geared towards having a quality agency across the board. What all these done is that it reduces the stress for our staff and reduces the paperwork.”