Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Act 2006 that granted autonomy to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has a journey of inference from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Act of 1959 which established and empowered the independent entity to regulate aviation activities in the US.
“The Administrator or Secretary of FAA has the powers under title 49 not to submit his decisions to any authority before approval,” stated Mrs. Anastatia Gbem, Director of Legal Services, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), who headed the 1999 Nigerian civil aviation law review team.
Speaking at the recent Business Breakfast Meeting organized by Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) in Lagos, Gbem explained that though NCAA’s enforcement powers were subject to appeal, Sections 30 (5) & (7) of NCAA Act 2006 granted the regulator autonomy to regulate and enforce safety.
Only 6% (Nine) of the 150 registered domestic airlines that existed at the beginning of this millennium still remains and eight scheduled local airlines currently operate visibly in Nigeria.
“Most of these operators collapsed because they were unable to meet the stringent regulatory requirements while the surviving ones seem to be the outliers,’’ states Mr. Richard, Aisuebeogun, former Chief Operating Officer of Overland Airways and former Chief Executive Officer, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006 section (18.10.3) states that “All Nigerian licensed airlines shall submit to the Authority on a monthly basis, all financial data and records on their operations in the form and manner as may be prescribed by the Authority.” Aisuebeogun notes that the pathetic economic record of airlines would not have occurred if this was complied with.
“It is paramount to ascertain the adequacy and effectiveness of the NCAA Economic Regulation framework in detecting, mitigating, preventing and remedying these situations,” he says, submitting that NCAA should ascertain the financial position of Nigerian airlines and their abilities to sustain future operations and determine the extent of airline compliance and inclusiveness in financial auditing. He further recommends the establishment of effective regulatory framework for implementation of Economic Regulation and creation of a platform for discussing financial issues that affect the Nigerian air transport industry on a quarterly basis with airlines promoters.
The ART in its communiqué posited that there was need for government to avoid all forms of political interference in the operations of NCAA to enable the agency assert fully and implement the demands of its autonomy in the interest of the industry’s safety and development.
There is hope of a better implementation of NCAA’s autonomy and effective regulation as the Director General, Capt. Usman Muhtar had at a press conference early in 2017, promised that the agency would “sustain zero accidents in the aviation sector through an increase in safety oversight, wider and more regular surveillance, stringent enforcement of regulation as well as appropriate sanctions.” He added that the agency would “ensure that the regulations were much more far-reaching and the airlines’ operational books will be looked into with increased regularity.”