NCAA Bans Unauthorised Use Of Drones

Drones, NCAAThe Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has banned the launching of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (known as drones), in the Nigerian airspace without its permit and that of the office of National Security Adviser.

In a statement issued by the agency’s spokesman, Mr Sam Adurogboye, NCAA said that the move is part of the safety guidelines issued by the regulatory agency to drone operators following the proliferation of the technology in the country.

According to the agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is yet to publish standards and recommended practices, as far as certification and operation of civil use of drones is concerned.

In the meantime, the NCAA has put in place regulations and advisory circular to guide the certification and operations of civil RPA in the Nigerian airspace.

House Of Reps Investigates Malpractices By Airline Operators

House Of Reps Chairmanship: Two Members Reject PositionsThe House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Aviation to investigate malpractices by airline operators in Nigeria’s airspace and their treatment of passengers.

The decision was reached on Tuesday during plenary, after Honourable Rita Orji moved a motion on the need for airline operators in Nigeria to adhere to international best practices.

Some of the lawmakers, who contributed while deliberating on the motion, said airline operators in Nigeria engaged in many malpractices, ranging from cancellation of scheduled flights to outright sale of ticket by its passengers.

The leadership of the House of Representatives also met with chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees in the House.

At the meeting, the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, got a reassurance of unflinching support from the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees in the House.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Chief Whip of the lower chamber, Honourable Ado Alhassan, said only two lawmakers rejected the position of chairman given to them by the Speaker.





AIB Stepping Up Measures To Enhance Air Safety – Mukthar Usman

The Accident Investigation Bureau has said that it is stepping up measures in its bid to promote safety in the nation’s airspace.

One of these measures is creating a prevention roadmap by putting its new download laboratory to pro-active use by studying data from aircraft recorders.

This was made known by the commissioner of the bureau, Captain Mukhtar Usman, who added that several of its safety recommendations from past accident investigations have been implemented.



Aviation: Major Changes To Take Effect In 2014 – Stella Oduah

The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah has assured Nigerians that major changes would be seen in all airports and in the aviation sector come 2014. Top of the list of changes promised are a new era of ‘healthier airlines’ and better service delivery to the satisfaction of travellers.

“Some people would like you to believe it’s cosmetics. There’s nothing cosmetic about it. There’s nothing cosmetic about safety and security and so essentially what we did was to increase the current facilities we have by a 150 percent. For Lagos, we actually did 200 percent increase in the facility,” she said.

The minister who was a guest on Sunrise Saturday recounted some of the achievements made in the sector which critics have said are ‘cosmetic.’

The aviation sector in Nigeria has in the recent past been regarded as below standard and according to Oduah, “the death of Aviation sector started about 30 years ago. Airports which had been established for social value lacked the proper plan for sustainability hence they ‘died’ in no time.

“I believe Aviation came on board as a social platform and so everything social often is not sustained because the sustainability of the infrastructures which were not put in place,” she said.

“As much as aviation has a social content, aviation is about economics and commerce but evolved and enveloped around safety and security. Over the years we missed that point and when we missed it, the sustainability of those noble ideas, we lost it.”

Things have now changed as “the sector is now alive (literally); the sector has now come to life, because prior to this time what you had was a very dead sector, a sector where everything was obsolete (literally).”

Aviation Budget

The sector which now boasts of over 14.5 million passengers had been on the budget of the Federal Government and yet it decayed. Speaking on the programme, Oduah attributed this to the concentration on ‘welfare,’ “so the infrastructure maintenance upgrade were relegated to the background.”

She also talked about the “unprecedented” growth the sector has experienced recently and added that “no other country has that sort of growth.”

For the past two years we have been going on double digits, two years ago we were at 14.5 million, now we are approaching 20 million passengers.

“The growth can only be sustained and increased upon in commensurate increase and maintenance of those facilities, otherwise they would slip away. Facility capacity must be increased”

Furthermore, she disclosed that some of the works being done are yet to be visible as they are mostly in the back-end. Others are not ready and so may not be seen, for example wing E and D of the international airport in Lagos.

Increase In Efficiency

The Minister said that in due course, passengers should expect that “processing time (at the airport) is reduced to less than 15 minutes.

“You don’t have to stay on those long queues; you don’t have to be harassed as you go because the space has increased.

Service delivery will also be improved upon because “we went on massive training to ensure that improved infrastructure will be adequately manned by workers.”

As time goes on, you are going to see different facilities increased enough to be able to accommodate the increase in passengers that we are envisaging.

“We envisage in the next 12 months we should be able to do 40 million” as studies show that almost 65% of traveling adults and young adults in Nigeria use air transportation. “It’s the preferred mode of transportation.”

Expensive Airfares

Commenting on complaints that air transportation is costly in Nigeria compared to other parts of the world, Stella Oduah said “I don’t think so.” The reason being that “air transportation is the most regulated sector in the world and so it’s not policy permissible for an airline to unilaterally decide the cost”

“You need to have the regulators’ approval and the regulator has to work in conformity with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) global standards.

“We fought the British Airways because the prices they were charging domestically were far much in excess to what they were charging in Ghana and in neighbouring countries and so we fought them.”

“We are still in court with them,” she disclosed.

Wealthy Lifestyle

Responding to claims that people have been buying private jets as a means of escaping the poor services rendered at the airports, she said “private jet is a lifestyle. Several things lead to one deciding to have that sort of lifestyle. Time saving could be one of them but often times,  it’s not the main reason for that and that is why it’s a lifestyle.”

“For us it is business. It’s tagged as general aviation,” she said.

She went further to hint that the increase in the purchase of private jets is an indication of economic growth. “The growth of general aviation often is a reflection of economic growth in the nation. It means you have the emergence of wealthy men and women that have developed different lifestyles.”

On the lack of efficiency of the local airlines, she said a diagnostic report showed that “we have very high deficiency in terms of operations with the domestic airways, poor governance. We have majorly badly structured domestic airlines that work on the model of not having to pay.”

However, “a reformed, a refined and a very well-articulated, updated civil aviation policy which she said will be sent to the National Assembly in January for approval, will give the agency the leverage it needs to ensure that changes are made.

She outlined some other developments and changes which are in the pipes, including much ‘healthier’ airlines, which are much responsive and policy abiding, the introduction of Passengers Bill of Rights which gives the NCAA the authority to ensure that passenger’s rights are protected.

“The bill is at the advocacy stage which also sees that carriers understand the responsibility of their non-conformity to the bill of rights,” she said.



FAAN Insist Amaechi’s Plane Was Not Registered In Nigeria

Controversies surround the ownership of the aircraft grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) over the weekend as the Rivers state government insist it owns the aircraft while the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) claims the plane belongs to the Bank of Salt Lake City USA and was brought into the country on chatter by Carveton Helicopters.

FAAN’s spokesperson, Mr Yakubu Datti, also insisted that the aviation authorities have no business dealing with the Rivers state government because they are in talks with the owners of the plane, the Bank of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Speaking on our breakfast program, Sunrise Daily, Mr Datti, said it was wrong for a foreign registered aircraft to fly into the country and embark on domestic shuttles without notifying the aviation authorities.

He said the authorities had no information that the rivers state government was operating the said aircraft.

Mr Datti further stated that from investigations the aircraft had flown to airports beyond Owerri and Akure that were not captured in the documentation they submitted while coming into the country even after the expiration of the permit.

Rejecting the claim that the Rivers state government was operating an illegal aircraft in the Nigerian airspace, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari, said the state government has been abiding by the regulations of the country and does not have a history of disobeying it.

She added that necessary waivers of the flight in question have been sent to the appropriate authorities.

FG To Help Nigerian Airlines Acquire New Aircraft

The new plan of intervention fund for the nation’s ailing aviation sector will not involve the release of cash to Nigerian airlines but a funding system will entail the purchase of brand new aircraft that the federal government is negotiating with aircraft manufacturers.

Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi.

The federal government will provide the funds to purchase the new aircraft on stringent conditions and at very low interest rate.

This clarification was made on Channels TV weekend breakfast programme; Sunrise, by the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi,  where he explained that the Nigerian airlines that will benefit from the intervention will only enjoy such privilege based on stringent conditions.

According to FAAN’s MD, “the federal government of Nigeria is not buying any number of aircrafts that as being rumoured about. The government is just negotiating with aircraft manufacturers to supply brand new aircraft at globally competitive price to Nigerian airlines and funds to make the purchase will be provided by the government.”

It has been speculated that the federal government was about to purchase about 30 aircraft and practitioners in the aviation sector have been worried about how such aircraft will be distributed to the airlines operating in the nation’s airspace.

But Mr Uriesi debunked the claim about the purchase of 30 aircraft but confirmed the move on negotiating with aircraft manufacturers as part of the road map designed by the Ministry of Aviation to rescue the ailing sector.

He claimed that funds to buy these aircraft will be provided on very low interest rates instead of just giving the airlines funds from the intervention funds as it has being done twice before with no commensurate improvement in the sector.

“The interest rate will be single digit” he revealed.

This system, he notes will help address the issues of old aircraft that are plying the Nigerian airspace.

Merger for national carrier

He also denied reports that the federal government will be launching a new national carrier this year but however hinted that a merger of some notable airlines in the country will occur in the first quarter of the year and this merger will birth a national carrier that will be managed by the private sector.

“The federal government will not launch a new national carrier but it will help some new companies’ access funding to build a new national carrier” stated Mr Uriesi.

He further adds that “a couple of airlines will merge by March 2013 to emerge as the national carrier” and that “conditions that will enhance these developments are currently being put together.”

Part of the stringent conditions to access the scheme will be a thorough corporate governance structure within the prospective airlines.

When asked whether any airline in the Nigerian Aviation sector will be able to meet up to the stringent conditions at present, the FAAN boss claimed that the benefit of this new policy will be too good an offer, which would in turn make the airlines strive to operate even better.