The Technical and Administrative Review Panel on Domestic Airlines (TARPDA) which was inaugurated on 11th June 2012 by the Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah to review safety issues in Dana Air and other operational issues in the Nigerian Aviation industry has indicted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the management of Dana Air over breach of safety procedures.
The committee headed by Group Captain John Obapkolo (rtd), concluded in its report that “the panel found out that certain maintenance practices by Dana Airline particularly the use of Technical Logbook were not in conformity with standard and recommended practices. It was also found out that in some instances, the surveillance by NCAA inspectors on the airlines’ maintenance practices were below expectation. This is attributed to such factors as insufficient manpower and training.”
The issue of manpower deficiency in the NCAA is heightening concerns of the quality of its regulatory capability.
Checks at the NCAA by our correspondent revealed that most of the directors are in acting capacity, some have acted for over two years without a letter to that effect.
Some of the directors still acting include; director for airspace and standards, director airworthiness, director admin and finance, director licensing and training and director consumer protection.
Experts fear this situation could compromise quality regulation as the directors would have limited powers to function.
The spokesman for NCAA Mr. Sam Adurogboye confirmed the situation but added that it is the ministry that should confirm the directors not NCAA.
Among other key recommendation of the panel are: That, the Federal Government should immediately declare an emergency in the aviation sector and commence the implementation of an Aviation Sector Emergency Program (ASEP); that it is important that the NCAA inspectors should have continuous training to ensure that they have the qualification, operational or technical work experience compatible with the operations that they are required to certify or inspect and that their qualification compare favourably with those of operators personnel they will encounter in their inspections.
The report also recommended that the NCAA ensures that airline operators are put on closer surveillance. Maintenance actions carried out by operators, if not routine should, always be queried to establish what necessitated the maintenance action and ensure the continuous proper use of the technical logbook and that the federal government should intensify efforts to complete the on-going reconstruction and remodeling of terminal buildings and structures, as well as construct new ones across the country.
Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should empower commercial banks to create a window for long-term low interest funding for direct lending to aviation. The industry will require at least N500 billion for this purpose and an aircraft leasing company with an initial investment of $10 billion should be setup by the Federal Government to acquire modern aircraft directly from major manufacturers and lease to qualified Nigerian air operators at preferential rates. This will help in the reduction of operating cost and improvement of efficiency and competitiveness.