The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is taking cautious steps to respond to allegation of aircraft tampering levelled against it by the owners of TopBrass, Mr. Roland Iyayi.
Capt. Muhtar Usman, the Director-General of NCAA who stated this in a chat with aviation journalists, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, expressed surprise at the tampering allegation and said that since the case was in the court of law, he would rather keep silent and wait till the case go through the processes
The regulatory agency said that it intended to meet the airline operator in court to challenge the several allegations against it.
He, however, stated that Nigeria as a signatory to the Cape Town Convention, should adhere strictly to the rules and regulations it signed.
He said: “First of all, I am not in the know of any tampering of any aircraft because the company did not put its aircraft under the watch of NCAA and I believe that as a responsible organisaiton, we should not be discussing a case that is before the court.
“ I am surprised that TopBrass is being mentioned everywhere.
We will respect the court. We will wait until the outcome of the judgment before we make any pronouncement.
However, Nigeria is a signatory to the Cape Town Convention, which helps especially African countries to get access to lease of aircraft.
“In the process, there are procedures, whoever that is leasing, signs an adherence, which allows the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to deregister aircraft when there are defaults.
“I will be very surprise that today NCAA has been dragged to court severally by this person who signed voluntarily and it is the same person that is making the allegation. So, we will meet in court.”
On the zero accident rates to commercial jet in almost six years in Nigeria, Usman attributed this to the cooperation of operating airlines, service providers, stakeholders and other players in the system who ensured that safety procedures were strictly adhered to.
He, added that NCAA hoped to consolidate and surpass these current achievements in the new year, stressing that the aim of the regulatory agency was to ensure reduction in the number of incidents in the industry in 2019.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would once again scale the hurdle of the administration, stressing that the duty of TSA was to assess any country that its airline operates into.
At the moment, only Delta Air Lines operate direct flight operations between Nigeria and US, while no Nigerian carrier operates into the country.
He maintained that the exercise would also help the country to close all open items in the system and further improve safety in the system.
“They (TSA) normally go out and assess all other airports outside the US that has direct air link to US. So, it is a normal process. This is not the first time; we do it once or twice a year. It also helps us to check our own level of preparedness on security and also ensures we meet international standards.
“Almost all the time when they come, they are always satisfied and we believe that even this time around, they will be satisfied. We will be open to observations from them and where we need to improve, we will certainly implement their safety recommendations. As you know, aviation securities are dynamic; we also have to be proactive to make sure we meet current and the future challenges,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that Nigeria would scale the forthcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit, which would take place this year.
On its inability to name the names of airlines sanctioned recently by the regulatory agency, Usman said that the objective of the agency was not to bring the operations of any operator, but to ensure compliance with the civil aviation regulations.
He added: “As I said again, the essence is not to bring down anybody. Fist Nation at a time was a regular air operators’ certificate holder doing scheduled flight and at a time, Nigerians were asking where they were and why they were being downgraded. First of all, they know the requirement to operating scheduled service, but as a safety measure, we allowed them to operate provided they remained safe.
“That was why we had to do extra work. All hands were on deck for the number of months they operated below the minimum and we thank God the period did not witness any mishap. However, there is a limit to tolerance. We had to downgrade them to non-schedule service and people were certainly asking questions about their operations. All what we are most concerned about is safety and security.”