The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) team is expected in Nigeria on March 31 to carry out mandatory assessment of Nigeriaâ€™s Category 1 Safety Status certification which it awarded to the country in August 2010.
The objective of the assessment is to ensure that Nigeria still maintains the safety standard in air transport, which enabled the US to award Nigeria the certification.
The benefits of the FAA Category 1 Safety Status is that the Nigerian aviation sector is rated highly in the world aviation industry; Nigerian airlines have easy access to credit facility from international financiers, and insurance premium for Nigerian registered aircraft is relatively low.
The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, who addressed journalists yesterday in Lagos on planned visit, said since Nigeria bagged the Category 1 safety status three years ago, there had been a boost in the industry, which had started contributing significantly to the economy of the country.
â€œIn joining the premier league of giant nations in aviation, the attached benefits and growth propensity have been massive for the industry. Perhaps I need to reiterate the benefits of Cat 1 which as you are all aware have impacted positively on the aviation industry,â€ he said.
Akinkuotu noted that due to the enhanced safety rating, insurance premium for airlines had been reasonable, adding that the certification â€œis one of the most significant operating cost for an airline. It will engender much more favourable leasing/lending terms from financial institutions for our airline operators.â€
The director general confirmed that the volume of traffic into the country had been increasing annually in the aftermath of the award of the certification by FAA, remarking that there was an influx of scheduled commercial airlines operating into the regional hub for West Africa and that there had been business and cultural exchange in the region.
â€œThe industry has grown and the certification has made the industry attractive to foreign and local operators and Nigerian registered aircraft were able to fly directly to the US destination, unlike in the past when a flight from Nigeria must land in FAA Category 1 country before taking off to the US,â€ Akinkuotu said.
He said a technical committee had been inaugurated to provide fillip and drive all the preparation process.
â€œMembership of this committee is drawn from the Flight Safety Group (FSG) directorates .These are Directorate of Airworthiness Standard (DAWS), Directorate of Licencing (DOL) and Directorate of Operations and Training (DOT).
â€œOthers are Directorate of Finance and Accounts (DFA), Directorate of Human Resources (DHR), Directorate of Administration (DOA) and the Legal department. The Chairman of the Technical committee is Captain Abdullahi Sidi, the Director of Operations and Training while the Secretary is Dr. W.T.Haggai, acting Head, Aeromedical Standards. The term of reference of the technical committee is to ensure adequate preparation for the FAA Category 1 Re â€“ Assessment Audit,â€ the Director General said.
He said the assessment which FAA wanted to carry out was an audit but added that Nigeria was ready for the assessment because it had been improving its airspace safety and security since it bagged the certification in 2010.