The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said as a regulatory agency, it will always resist the urge to be in a hurry to certify airports across the country.
According to director general of the agency, Captain Muhtar Usman, the NCAA is taking its time to make sure things are done properly bearing in mind that due diligence remains the guiding principle.
He said the authority is taking its time in the certification process so that when the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit is done on all the airports, Nigeria won’t be found wanting.
Usman who stated this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP assured that, while the civil aviation authority is set up to meet all the ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), nothing will make the authority act in manners that are below international standards in certifying the airports.
The NCAA boss said his agency has been working very well with relevant airport operators to ensure that the necessary things needed are put in place to ensure that the certification is done at reasonable time.
He promised to also mount surveillance, with a view to ensuring that the nation’s airports meet those standards and recommended practices so as to continue to exercise privilege of the certificate issued to them.
Listing the benefits of airport certification, Capt. Usman pointed out that such exercise is based on safety and is required by ICAO to give the required confidence to international airline operators coming in that standards have been met.
He said, “That is not to say that what we have now is unsafe, because we have been operating. The airports as they are are safe and they will be even safer if we bring it in line with standards and recommended practices because ICAO wants to bring in uniformity as fueled by standard and recommended practices.
“We have been operating safe; we want everybody to be on the same page, which is why this certification has to be done in line with ICAO standards”.
On the readiness of the airports, the NCAA DG said that, while he is aware there is deadline, the Authority has unfortunately not met it because it is not ready to certify anything that is not up to standard.
He, however, assured that the challenges are being addressed, believing that within a very short time, based on what they have in place now, Lagos will be certified.
Speaking on the process of certification, Usman who was the former commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) said, “The certification process is in five stages and Lagos is about the fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification. Once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more on Abuja.
“Even some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport, as I said, there are 5 stages: the pre-application stage, formal application stage, document and evaluation of document stage, as well as operational demonstration stage.”
“At the operation demonstration stage, the entire document you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see and what you say you have in place are there and finally we sign the certificate. As I said, signing of certificate is just the beginning. You have certificate and it comes with privilege and you can only access the privilege if you continue to maintain the standards”, he added.
The aviation expert further disclosed that NCAA has been working closely with other aviation agencies such as the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and others from the beginning since there was need to interact.
“We have no reason not to cooperate in the first place because they are desirous of getting airports certified and we are also desirous of certifying the airports”, he said.