Since 2015, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART/ASRTI) has issued communiqués after its various conferences, offering professional solutions to the various safety-related challenges in Nigeria’s Aviation Industry. While some of such professional advice to the Industry has been heeded, many of the issues are yet to be addressed. Outstanding industry and allied issues requiring attention include:
- INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: There is a need to create and sustain a harmonious industrial relationship in the industry through constant dialogue with stakeholders.
- MAINTENANCE REPAIR AND OVERHAUL (MRO) FACILITY: Consequent upon the inability of the government to successfully prosecute the National Hangar to fruition, the Federal Government should create an enabling environment for the bold initiative by Akwa Ibom State Government MRO facility in Uyo to thrive and serve as a model for MRO development in Nigeria.
- NATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY (NCAA) AUTONOMY: Recognizing the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority in any modern state is the arrow head for the observance, enforcement and implementation of internationally agreed standard recommended practices; its autonomy cannot be compromised in the interest of aviation security and safety. To all extraneous interference inhibiting its effectiveness should be removed to facilitate its regulation and supervision of the industry in the areas of Aviation Security Programme, airport periodic maintenance, airlines economic audit, operational safety issues, etc. NCAA should be strengthened to continuously enforce the National Aviation Security Programme.
- SANCTITY OF CONTRACTS IN THE INDUSTRY: Unpredictability of government policies and failure to respect sanctity of contracts creates atmosphere of uncertainty in the Nigerian Aviation Industry. We urge the Federal Government to respect contract agreements and ensure continuity in the implementation of policies in order to gain the confidence of foreign investors, governments, international organizations and individuals.
- SECURITY: We hereby reiterate the need for a review of the entire AVSEC architecture and infrastructure at the nation’s airports. We once responded the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) model of the USA as a template. We further strongly recommend that a civil Aviation Cyber Security Programme be developed forthwith with the establishment of Aviation Computer Emergency Response Team (AVI-CERT) to protect these vital infrastructures. Installation of surveillance cameras and electronic Access Control Systems across the nation’s airports is important for the enhancement of physical security.
- SAFETY ISSUES: There should be a review of the location of tank farms around offices, especially the ones near the NCAA headquarters.
- OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES: In order to enhance operational efficiency on the air side, we advised on the need for fuel hydrants to be an integral part of tarmac/apron construction to reduce the turnaround time for aircraft operation. A consortium of airline operators could be encouraged to address the prevailing challenge that rendered fuel hydrants inoperative at MMIA 2 for the ease of fueling aircraft and thereby reduce flight delays.
- HUMAN CAPACITY BUILDING: The Human Resources of any industry is its lifeline. The efficiency of the NCAA as an important regulatory is being impeded by lack of skilled or adequately trained staff. We therefore advise that the observed human capacity deficiency in the industry be rapidly addressed through the establishment of Human Capital Development Plans, Institutional Succession Planning and mentoring programme across the industry and organizations with huge investment.
- AIRLINES: Jointness and symbiotic relationship is a prominent feature globally acclaimed in the aviation industry. The Nigerian experience has witnessed early death of airlines with lifespan of five (5) years with attendant multidimensional consequences. In order to arrest this unenviable cycle of failure, we believe that a recapitalization of airlines and code-sharing arrangements could be the panacea. Participants in the industry would be required to be quoted on the Stock Exchange, comply with a reviewed NCAA prescribed acceptable minimum fleet size alongside other requirements to promote good corporate governance practice and widen the public shareholding base of the airlines. As incentives to the airline operators, Government should effect a downward review of the various taxes and charges.
- AVIATION AND TOURISM: The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) should continue to engage the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) to stimulate domestic travel and tourism.
- BILATERAL/MULTILATERAL AIR SRVICE AGREEMENTS (BASA/MASA): We noted with dismay the inability of Nigerian airline operators to utilize maximally. The various BASAs and MASAs concluded by Nigeria due to the prevailing inclement industrial environment. There is need to review and possibly re-negotiate the various international air service agreements with a view to obtaining terms favorable to Nigeria’s aviation industry.
- FUNDING OF THE AVIATION INDUSTRTY: It is a globally known fact that government deliberately create favourable environment for aviation to thrive. Considering the Nigerian environment, we advise the creation of a differential pricing regime for aviation related foreign exchange transactions.
Dr. Gabriel O. Olowo Fnim, Fitp