Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) thursday said about 70 per cent of the air accidents that happened in Nigeria were caused by regulatory inefficiency and negligence by government agencies in the industry.
This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison, while speaking at the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Safer Skies Forum in Lagos, lamenting that airlines lose about $120 million (about N27.6 billion) to bird strike incidents alone annually. Meggison explained that every year the airlines record 30 incidents of airstrikes which is the entering of birds into the aircraft engines at landing or take off.
This he said is average of two and half incidents every month, adding that the cost of a single aisle aircraft engine is about $4 million, which airlines acquire to replace their damaged engines. Meggison said the last accident that occurred on October 3, 2013 in Lagos involved aircraft, owned by Association Aviation Limited, that was on ground for 24 months and therefore was not airworthy.
While speaking on what contributes to unsafe skies, Meggison said in Nigeria, apart from mechanical errors of airplanes, inefficiencies and negligence of aviation agencies contribute greatly to the air accidents, adding that even after the reports of those crashes were published, government didn’t learn from them. “We need to start looking at landing aids and landing areas at airports because over 70 per cent of air crashes in Nigeria are linked to negligence on the part of aviation parastatals and oversight deficiencies of regulatory agencies. For instance, the ADC Flight crash in Abuja on 29 October, 2006 was due to air traffic control issue; Wings aviation crash was due to wrong charting of the airspace by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), while Associated Airlines plane was on ground for 24 months before it was taken to the skies.
“We need to look at the issues and not sweep issues under the carpet in Nigeria; we have issues ranging from bad drainage of runway surface to failure of air traffic controller to properly monitor runways, among others,” he said. Also speaking, Director of Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Adamu Abdulahi, who represented the Director General, identified ageing workforce, paucity of funds and others as challenges also facing the sector.
He said however that Nigeria was investing heavily in training adding that government was also revamping the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria for personnel training in critical areas.