By VICTOR NZE
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has now certified the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, following months of refurbishing and upgrading of the airport’s facilities to meet global aviation standards as set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
This is also as the Nigeria Metrological Service (NiMet), has bagged the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 2015 certifications for its compliance with international best practices.
The development makes the airport the first to be certified, out of the 22 airports managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The certificate was formally presented to the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr Saleh Dunoma, by the Director- General of the NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, at a ceremony at the NCAA’s headquarters in Lagos.
Remarking, Usman who stated that the certificate was valid for a period of three years, further called for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the certification was sustained, even as he stressed that the current drive toward certification of Nigerian airports was significant not only as a requirement by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Nigerian civil aviation regulations but even more importantly as one of the critical safety targets of the Federal Government.
Usman said that the declaration which was made in July 2012 mandated all African countries to certify their international airports, further describing the certification as an enabler for the attainment of a regional hub, which Nigeria desired for Lagos and Abuja.
“Aerodrome certification can be defined as a process by which a state can demonstrate that airports in its territory meet regulatory safety requirements on a continuing basis. It is providing uniform conditions for safe and efficient operation of aircraft from all other states as required by Article 15 of the Chicago Convention.
“Aerodrome certification is therefore, an ICAO strategy for the standardisation and harmonisation of airport services, facilities and procedures as well as ensuring uniformity in safety of critical aerodrome elements, irrespective of the differences in ownership and management of such aerodromes.”
Usman said the objective of the certification was to assist states to effectively implement the critical elements of a safety oversight system in accordance with Annex 14 Vol. 1and other relevant ICAO specifications.
He stressed that the NCAA was committed to the certification of all Nigerian international airports in line with its regulations, ICAO safety and recommended practices as well as the Africa-Indian Ocean Regional Safety Targets.
“In furtherance of the above objective, the certification of Abuja airport is in the final stage, while strategic measures have been put in place by the NCAA and FAAN to ensure the certification of Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kaduna international airports by July 2018,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Mohammed Odonowo, Director of Aerodromes and Airspace Standards of NCAA, said the certification, which was done in five phases, was of immense benefit to aviation stakeholders and the travelling public.
“The expected benefits of aerodrome certification include enhancement in the provision of safety critical aerodrome facilities, services, procedures and personnel. It also includes enhancement in collaborative decision making amongst airport stakeholders, especially between the aerodrome operator and the NCAA.
On his part, FAAN boss, Dunoma expressed delight that the certification of the Lagos airport which took two and a half years had finally been achieved, adding that focus was now on getting certification for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and other airports in the country.
“We are going to make sure that this certification is sustained. We have come up with a sustainability programme which was accepted with a few corrections. I want to thank the technical personnel of FAAN and the NCAA as well as ICAO Western and Central Africa for making this certification possible.”
Meanwhile, Director-General, NiMet, Prof. Sani Marshi, while formally presenting the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 2015 certifications for compliance with international best practices to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in Abuja, Tuesday, stated that the achievements recorded in the aviation sector have made it a pacesetter to other African countries.
According to Marshi, Nigeria has recorded a giant stride to be the first African country to have met the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) and the World Metrological Organisation (WMO) for quality management system.
“In line with that, we in the ministry of aviation have given the Met services sector that urgent necessary importance it deserves. The two bodies that are regulating the activities of Met agencies in the world, the ICAA and the WMO made it clear that any Met agency in the world that is supposed to be offering services must be certified by the International Standard organisation.
“We set the ball in motion, did all we are supposed to do, put the necessary infrastructure, met all our requirements and then we invited the auditors from the ICAA and WMO. They came to Nigeria and they looked at what we had and as a result of this, they have issued the certificate to us. By this, it means we are now certified by the two bodies to be offering best services in the aviation sector,” Marshi said.
Remarking, Sirika said that the International Certification of NiMet as well as the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s mission of securing the country and boosting economic development.
Sirika said that NiMet’s certification was a huge one as the only agency to achieve the 9001 certificate in Africa p, which is a pride to Nigeria, adding further that both certifications would increase the value of the nation’s airports and boost economic activities.
“Our mission and vision in line with Mr President is to ensure that our institutions are working very well, strong, efficient and dynamic and to make them better for tomorrow. Once that is achieved, it means we are managing the country well. Strong institutions will definitely beget a strong nation.
“Our intent is to create strong viable and sustaining institutions that are good enough to take our industry out of the woods and begin to do things standardised as provided for by the ICAA, the world regulator of Aviation,” Sirika said
On his part, ICAO Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mr Mam Sait Jallow, said that both certifications are two key standards related to safety as most of the aircraft accidents are due to issued related to runway safety and also weather conditions.
“These are really key achievements which we wanted to witness and we won’t stop here because we are still in house and we have to climb on the roofs to publish what we have done.
“Technically, we have just concluded Phase Four and as far as certification is concerned, we now need to publish aeronautical information to the world for them to know that the Murtala Mohammed Airport is now certified likewise NiMet,” Jallow said.
NiMet had received the certification in March 2017and is valid until 2020.