Air Force Shows Readiness To Resist Terror Attacks On Nigerian Airports

Air-Force-Nigeria-Simulation-exercise-in-Abuja-Airport The Nigerian Air Force says it is fully prepared to respond to possible terror attacks across Nigeria’s airports, just as it assured air passengers of their safety at all times.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed the readiness of the force while addressing naval officials after a simulation exercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The simulation appeared like a real life situation, showcasing the Nigerian Air Force’s combat readiness to counter terrorism at the airport.

It began with troops taking vantage position at the airport while others are deployed into the terminal building of the airport to arrest the terrorists.

Under the command of the regiment commander, the troops stormed the airport to arrest some suspected terrorists.

With the arrest of the terrorists which brought the mission to an end, the Chief of Air Staff gave his observation on the exercise.

Air-Force-simulation-exercise
Nigeria Air Force officials in simulation exercise to counter terror attack

“I am very happy that we have been able to test the plans we have for this airport and whatever gaps there are, we will be able to quickly go back and debrief and see where there are areas of difficulties,” he said.

The Air Chief reaffirmed that there was no threat of terrorist attack on any airport in Nigeria.

“We are not anticipating anything. Like I said, this is just an exercise. It is very important that you evaluate your plan from time to time. If not you might have some gaps in what you have put together. If you have to wait till there is anticipation, then it might just be too late,” Air Marshal Abubakar stressed.

He further explained that the simulation exercise was aimed at testing the combat readiness of the troops to counter terrorism and would be replicated across the country.

Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the air staff were fully equipped to counter terrorists attacks on any airport within Nigeria.

He appealed to law abiding Nigerians to go about their lawful activities, saying that the Air Force remained committed to supporting other security agencies in reducing the activities of insurgents and militants in Nigeria.

Senate To Probe Airport Renovations In Nigeria

Senate, AirportsThe Nigerian Senate ‎has announced plans to investigate the renovation work in airports across the country.

The slow pace of work at the terminal building of some airports prompted the decision of the Senate Committee on Aviation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made the announcement on Wednesday after inspecting the level of work at the airports in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and Kaduna State.

He said that the officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the project consultants and contractors have been summoned to appear before the Senate Committee, to explain the reasons for the slow pace of work.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja where the oversight visits began, Sen. Uzodinma, who noticed that some buildings were begging for renovation at the premises of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), however, expressed satisfaction with the general level of work.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on his part reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to establish a national carrier.

The Committee also inspected a number of ongoing and completed projects at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Kaduna State.

Sen. Uzodinma told the Rector of the College, Captain Samuel Caulcrick, that the Senate would provide an effective oversight function on the aviation sector, to ensure that all facilities were in place for the smooth running of the sector.

With the discoveries made during the tour of Abuja and Kaduna airports, the Senate Committee on Aviation reaffirmed its commitment to visit other airports in the country, to ensure that Nigerian airports are well maintained for effective service delivery.

Private Operators To Manage Lagos Airport, Three Others

Lagos AirportThe federal government has announced plans to concession four major airports as part of efforts to develop and secure the aviation sector and diversify the nation’s economy.

Addressing aviation industry players ‎in Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, announced that the airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt will be managed by private sector operators.

He also announced plans by the federal government to establish aviation development bank and an aviation university to provide funding and quality technical manpower for the industry.

It was the first aviation stakeholders’ forum since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board.

The Minister reiterated the commitment of the federal government to fast track the development of the sector through public private partnership.

He used the occasion to announce the streamlining of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the creation of employment opportunities for Nigerian pilots.

Although the presentation of the Minister received an applause from the stakeholders, some of them expressed concerns about the activities of some agencies under the ministry.

Others appealed to the federal government to urgently address the challenges being faced in the industry.

The one day forum which attracted airline operators, pilots and captains of the aviation industry is aimed at strengthening the sector towards efficient service delivery.

Committee Recommends Launch Of National Aviation Security Programme

Aviation Security-AviationThe Ministerial Committee on Aviation Security has recommended the establishment of a National Civil Aviation Security Board to coordinate all security rules and regulations of the aviation industry in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the Committee, Air Commodore Hambali Tukur, made the observation on Friday.

He said the recommendation was to meet up with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard.

This was part of recommendations made by the committee in its report on the assessment of security at the Nigerian airports, which was submitted to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Senator Sirika also received a report on the review and amendment of the Civil Aviation Acts 2016 from the Chairman of the Aviation Act Review Committee, Ibrahim Idris.

He vowed that the report would be speedily considered and that the recommendations would be implemented as soon as possible towards a rapid reform of the aviation sector.

The minister expressed concern over the obsolete state of aviation acts which were hastily reviewed for the first time in 2006, after the initial enactment in 1964.

In his response, Mr Idris expressed optimism that their findings and recommendations were exhaustive, saying they would cause visible changes in the aviation industry if well implemented.

The committees were constituted in February for the review and amendment of the Civil Aviation Acts 2016 and the assessment of security at Nigerian airports.

FG To Prioritise Second Runway At Abuja Airport

Abuja AirportThe Federal Government says the second runway project at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, would be treated as a national priority.

The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Aviation, Capt. Shehu Iyal, disclosed this while briefing journalists on the achievements of the Jonathan administration in the aviation sector.

The Senior Special Adviser said that the project would ease the busy traffic on the existing runway and minimise the delay in take-off and landing, currently experienced by passengers at the Abuja airport.

On the issue of missing luggage and touting at the nation’s airports, the President’s aide said that government was aware of the situation and was putting measures in place to address the situation.

He said that missing of luggage was not peculiar to the nation’s airports, adding that it is a global challenge in the aviation sector.

On touting, Captain Iyal said that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) was currently training and retraining its security personnel to deal with the problem.

He said that the Federal Government had resolved to assist airports with policemen and soldiers to check the activities of touts.

According to Iyal, the Jonathan administration has raised the country’s aviation sector to global standard in the last six years.

One of the greatest achievements, he said, was the retention of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category One status, which Nigeria achieved in 2010 after a rigorous audit by FAA.

FAAN Has Done ‘Miraculously Well’ – Uriesi

The managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, George Uriesi, has commended the level of improvement the agency has witnessed under his leadership.

While speaking on Sunrise on Saturday, Mr Ureisi, explained that the reasons why visitors to Nigerian airports experience certain challenges including inadequate seats; improper air conditioning, is as a result of the out dated equipment.

According to him, airports are living organisms. You continue to construct and develop them but Nigeria has been sleeping for over 30 years after opening the last airport in 1982.

“In any country where you go to sleep with something as critical to the country’s economic development as airports, what we have now, what we inherited two years ago is what you find.”

The aviation system which he described as a ‘derelict and decrepit’ is what has made Nigeria’s flagship airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, a “national embarrassment and shame.”

“You sweat because the air conditioning came with the building in 1979. The generators came with the building in 1979, as well as the lifts and escalators.”

“What do you expect?” he asked.

However, he assured that the agency is “now changing everything” despite the limitation placed on them by available resources which necessitates a system of prioritization which determines what issues will be fixed first.

He added that the agency has done ‘miraculously well’ in the two years, since its revival.

Corruption In Aviation

The Director General of NIMET, Anthony Anuforom, hinted that huge corruption in the sector led to the broken-down state of the aviation sector.

While referring to the report by a committee, headed by air marshall Paul Dike, which recommended about N40 billion intervention fund to address airport infrastructure and safety infrastructure, he said that “if the funds were utilized at that time, perhaps the rot (my colleague referred to) probably wouldn’t persist up until 2011 when the present management of the ministry came on board.”

He disclosed that there is also another N6.5 billion sector project which was investigated by the Senate and is currently in court.

Anuforom was a director in one of the aviation parastatals in 2005-2006, in the Obasanjo regime.

Nigerian Airlines Forced To Cut Corners Due To Over-Taxation – Pilot

A Nigerian pilot, Captain Benson Ikponwosa, has warned that there may be more disasters in Nigeria’s air space if the airport authority continues to over tax and over charge the local airlines in its quest to make more money.

Reacting to the recent plane crash in Lagos state, Mr Ikponwosa said the issue is beyond regulation as “we have never been better regulated than we are now and yet these things are happening… I think it’s gone beyond regulations.”

He averred that a lot more attention is paid to paper work than the safety of flights.

As a result of high taxes and charges, airlines are being forced to cut corners leading to late payment of salaries to airline staff.

The airlines in Nigeria are the most tasked and most taxed, he said.

“Sometimes to issue a piece of paper like C of A (certificate of airworthiness), some airlines pay $10,000, for a piece of paper for Christ’s sake.” Ikponwosa added that “when you pay so much money for so many things that you have to have, what happens? You’re pushing airlines to start cutting corners. The airlines are unable to pay their staff salaries”.

He warned that aviation staff who have not been paid salaries for months would serve as easy accomplices to terrorists in the country.

Mr Ikponwosa who landed his first plane, professionally, in Nairobi, Kenya as a co-pilot 1987, revealed that parking fee for the airplane to stay overnight was $60, “at that time, parking fee for that airplane in Nigeria was $200 an hour” and $4,800 dollars for it to stay overnight.

In 2013, the figure has not changed in Kenya, which is why the Nairobi international airport is abuzz all day and all night. “At night, Nairobi is a beehive of activities because that is when all the cargo airplanes come in to carry produce to Europe”.

However, the same cannot be said of the international airports in Lagos and Abuja.

The plans to make the Murtala Muhammed International Airport into a hub will not materialize if you are not ‘operator friendly,’ he said.

He disclosed that the airport authorities deliberately chose to use airport price rates obtainable in airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Hong Kong etc. “They have forgotten that you can never take Nigeria and be equating Nigeria with those countries”.

In Ghana, an aircraft is charged $480 per day.

“You have to make the aviation user-friendly and not kill the airlines, he said, adding that domestic airlines in Nigeria are being strangulated as a result of too many charges which are exorbitant.

He called on the regulatory bodies “to look inwards to find out why are these charges overwhelm airlines.”

Stowaway Teenager Didn’t Breach Security – FAAN

The General Manager of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati, on Saturday said that the recent event which led to a teenage boy, Daniel Ihekina, hiding in the wheel well of a plane from Benin to Lagos is not the first of its kind, as such was recorded in 1928 for the first time.

“It is not a breach of security,” he said, while speaking on Sunrise, adding that “security is not a destination. It’s a process.”

He countered claims that the young boy carried out the act, undetected. “We need to get the issue in proper perspective and the case has been made clear. He was detected at the Benin airport.”

However, he admitted that “along the line, somebody did not play his role” which forms the basis of on-going investigation into the case.

He disclosed that a passenger had notified the cabin crew of strange movement when the plane was at take-off point and blamed the pilot for not aborting the flight for a proper check.

“It did not happen at the terminal” he said.

He assured that the authorities are looking into the situation but “in aviation, we don’t try to lay blames. What we try to see is find out what happened” as well as who did not play his role well and to ensure that there is no repeat.

He said the boy could have found his way through the 22 kilometer airport as well as through the perimeter fence which had broken down.

He added that not all Nigerian airports have complete perimeter fences, a situation the aviation minister, Stella Oduah, is working to change through the aviation master plan.  

Our ‘Perfect’ Aviation System Is Killing Us – Ikponwosa

A pilot, Benson Ikponwosa on Monday said the problem with the Nigerian aviation industry is the perception that we have a perfect system while in the real sense the system is outdated.

Mr Ikponwosa, who was speaking as a guest on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, said because our pilots think they are perfect, they die in ignorance.

“It could happen in those days that a perfectly normal pilot, who’s been flying on line, he goes for recurrent training. Suddenly, he fails in his ability to control the simulator if he was flying a twin engine airplane; he fails in his ability to control that airplane on one engine when the simulator simulate one engine situation for him.

“If he was flying a four engine airplane, he fails in his ability, if he was a first officer to fly that aeroplane on three engines or if he was a captain to fly it on two engines.

“When these things happen in those days, those pilots, what do the airlines do? They ground them until they are able to show that they can now handle the airplanes in those situations.”

Mr Ikponwosa said this is not the case nowadays where airlines recruit in-house trainers for their pilot because it was too expensive to send pilots out for training.

He said the problem with these in-house trainings is that “everybody passes” the test at the end of the recurrent training.

Crashed Dana plane could have run out of fuel – Pilot

A pilot and aviation expert, Benson Ikponwosa on Monday said the only plausible explanation to the recent Dana plane crash could be shortage of fuel.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ikponwosa said a plane that left Abuja with its two engines intact could not have lost both engines if aircraft had adequate supply of fuel.

A Dana Airline plane, flight MD83 had in June crashed into two buildings at the Agege area of Lagos State killing all 153 passengers and crew on aboard.

Mr Ikponwosa, who was speaking against the backdrop of Saturday’s Helicopter crash which killed the former Kaduna State governor, Patrick Yakowa; former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi and their aides, said ever since he became a pilot in 1977 no crash report in Nigeria have been made public.

Speaking on the doomed Dana plane, he said “up till now, you and I don’t know what made it go down. A lot of people say it lost two engines.

“Tell me how an air plane, who happily took off from Abuja, flew for about 55 minutes to Lagos. It didn’t lose two engines on the way until it got to Lagos. It is impossible. The only way those two engines could have packed up would have been if the guy ran out of fuel.”

He said if there was a lot of fuel in the air plane the fire that accompanied the crash would have been more than what it was.

Nigeria’s Air Traffic Control System Is Archaic – Pilot

A pilot and aviation expert, Benson Ikponwosa on Monday said among the many problems militating against the Nigerian aviation system is the old system of air traffic control.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ikponwosa said as far as the government refuse to insist on adequate trainings for pilots ‘planes will continue to go down’ in Nigeria.

“When they tell Nigerians that now we have radar and radar coverage it is all hogwash,” he said.

Mr Ikponwosa, who was speaking against the backdrop of Saturday’s Helicopter crash which killed the former Kaduna State governor, Patrick Yakowa; former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi and their aides, said the Nigerian air traffic control system is “still like when I went to school in 1977.”

The pilot gave an example of the outdated air traffic control system saying “a situation where for example a pilot needs to talk to an air traffic controller and between that pilot and the air traffic controller they happily spend 10 minutes; questions and answers, going back and forth.”

He said this is dangerous because there are so many planes in the air while the air traffic controller goes through his routine of asking irrelevant questions.

Mr Ikponwosa insisted that the only way out of these problems is training and retraining of aviation workers.

Upgrade our airports, Senate committee urges Minister

The Chairman Senate committee on Aviation, Hope Uzodinma on Tuesday expressed concern that some of the country’s airports are not certified according to the standards of international aviation regulatory agencies.

Mr Uzodinma, who noted this at the budget defence session of the ministry of aviation, asked the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah to ensure that the 2013 budget is used to address the issue of certification of airports and rehabilitating airport infrastructure.

The Senator said it is ‘’very sad that most of our airports are not certified in accordance with ICAO standards. We must therefore do everything possible to get them certified’’.

He said other areas which deserve serious attention; and upon which government must find a way to fund in the 2013 budget is capacity building and training of professionals/experts by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), airfield lighting as well the maintenance of the runways.

He emphasised that the Senate and the Ministry must collectively work together to ensure that the 2013 budget improves upon the achievements recorded in 2012 in order to be able to deliver on the expectations of Nigerians who not only expect functional facilities at the airports, but also that Aviation plays a pivotal role in the economic development of the nation.

‘’Let me say that our watch-word for year 2013 budget is must be prudence; realistic, tenacious and accountable execution of capital projects’’, the chairman added.

Mrs Oduah assured the committee that airport certification and modernization are key priorities in the ministry’s 2013 budget.

The Minister said Nigerian airports lack adequate fire cover, efficient airspace communication infrastructure, water hydrant, fire fighting vehicles, airfield lighting, while poor security of the airport, coupled with lack of perimeter fencing, among others, are factors militating against standard airport system stipulated by the global aviation regulatory body.

No airport in Nigeria has met the requirements for certification.

The Minister, in her presentation of the 2013 budget to the committee lamented that it was unacceptable that airports in the country are not certified.