Stakeholders and experts have called on the federal government to ensure that there is improvement in air travel safety in the country.
The stakeholders made this known recently at the aviation safety seminar 2013, which was held in Lagos, titled, ‘Strengthening Safety in the Nigerian Aviation Sector’, organised by Aero Consult.
Opening the conference, the CEO of Aero Consult Limited, Babatunde Obadofin, said there was urgent need to collaborate with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other relevant agencies to provoke thoughts and take necessary action to enforce and maintain the highest standards of safety in the industry.
He said the seminar was coming at a time when stakeholders resolved the need to take a critical look at safety issues in the sector and other critical aviation practices as requirements to stimulate the growth of the system as well enhance its maximum benefits in the years ahead.
Obadofin canvassed the endorsement of strengthening safety as a guiding and most strategic objective as the foundation for the growth of the industry, which has manifested in many challenges, adding that government should provide solutions to improving safety standards in the system to give the public the needed confidence to continue to travel by air.
Speaking, the head of Sabre West Africa, Mr. Gbenga Olowo, said the absence of the will to move forward has stagnated the growth and development of the industry especially domestic airlines.
Olowo canvassed a multiple formula of collaboration, consolidation, cooperation and merger as possible options for airline sustainability.
He established a template for survival of Nigerian airlines which should include mandatory scaling through the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), investment in technology through global distribution, membership of IATA, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) to derive maximum synergy from such partnerships.
He urged airlines to place higher premium on training and manpower development with emphasis on personnel in commercial units.
He said only three airlines are enough in Nigeria, if the existing airlines collaborate using the interline model to consolidate their operations, noting that how the clearing house on ticket and revenue sharing would be resolved remains the issue.
Olowo also called on government privatise the airports and focus on development policy, which should consider options ranging from full ownership, public private partnership, outright sale or franchise.
He said if there would be growth in capacity with seamless passenger and cargo processing, the airport authority needs to enhance competiveness.
Above all, he advocated deliberate ways to invest in manpower development, cost reduction for airlines amongst others, including driving autonomy for the civil aviation authority as well as establishment of transport and infrastructure ministry in the place of the current ministry of aviation.
Managing Director of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, identified several factors that impact on safety part of which he said include culture, organisational practices and habit.
He observed that the state, operators and others have roles to play in aviation safety, as failure on one part of the concentric circle impacts negatively on the others.
He reasoned that organisations must be prepared to invest in safety through the window of training and re-training of its personnel to maintain self-assessment and compliance with all known regulations and industry practices.
Some of the calls include that safety is everybody’s business from the top management to the lower cadre; that safety should not be sacrificed on the altar of profit for an organisation that is solely profit-driven will spend all the gains it made over the years when it has safety issues.
“That pilot errors, including inadequate training, crew resource management, dependence on automation and maintenance errors; reliability of dynamic components, including failure rate of gear boxes and other dynamic components, failure rate of engine and other components are key safety issues in the airline business.
“That either the government or airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation industry should see to the establishment of a maintenance facility so as to save money for airlines which always ferry their aircraft abroad for checks.”
The experts also called on the Nigerian Civil Authority of Nigeria to exercise the regulatory autonomy granted it by the Civil Aviation Act 2006 the same way the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has used its power to direct affairs in the banking sector.
They noted that air transport is the catalyst of Nigeria’s economic growth; that NCAA should engage more safety inspectors, not necessarily the ones on full time, to beef up its operations and it was also observed that there is a regulator that is so powerful and service providers that are not well regulated the country has not drawn any lessons from accidents that had occurred That air transport is the catalyst of Nigeria’s economic growth; and that NCAA should engage more safety inspectors, not necessarily the ones on full time, to beef up its operations.